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The Bonheur des Dames; 











"The Bonheur des Dames: or. The Shop Girls op Paris," is the striking 
tide of Emile Zola's latest contribution to French fiction. It is amazingly clever and 
interesting, and will certainly take a front rank among the master romances of this or any 
other age. Zola has never given the world anything like it, and its entire novelty in sud« 
ject, scope and style vastly augments its undeniable charm. The heroine is a young shop 
girl in a huge Paris dry-goods store, the " Bonheur des Dames," and her varied experi> 
ence is the pivot upon which the entire fascinating narrative turn<>. Contrary to Zola's 
usual method of procedure, he paints her as a model of innocence and purity. Of course, 
«;he has her temptations, and fearful ones they are, too, but her natural inclinations and 
thorough goodness enable her to pass through them as spotless as the driven snow. She 
receives her reward at last in happiness, wealth and social position. The action of the 
great novel takes place mainly in the immense store, the rise of which from the smallest 
proportions Zola describes with the utmost minuteness. The hosts of shop girls and 
salesmen are all brought in and placed before the reader in Zola's most naturalistic way. 
In fact, shop girl life has never before been so completely and eflfectively exposed to the 
public gaze. There arc some vivid descriptions of Paris in sunshine and storm, by day 
and by night, and all the incidents tell. The plot is powerful and absorbing in the 
highest degree, while every character is life-like. 



v\ I copykight: — 1883. 


1 1 


Translated from the French by John Stirling. 

Tbe Bonbenr den Barnes; or. The Rtaop Girls of Paris. Bjf 

EmiU Zola, author of " Nana," ** Pot-Bouille," etc With Illustrated Cover. 

Nana. The Seqnel to *«I/Assoiiiinoir.'' By EmiU Zola, author of 
" Pot-Bouille," " L'Assommoir," etc. With a portrait of •' Nana •' oft the cover. 

Ij'ASHOminoir. By EmiU ZoUt, author of "Nana," *' Pot-Bouille,'* "Albine," 
" Ilelene," etc. With a portrait of " Geivaise," the mother of " Naua," on the cover. 

Pot-Bonilie. B-f EmiU Zola, author of "Nana," *' L'ABSommoir," " Helene ." "A 
Mad Love," '' The Girl in Scarlet," " La Belle Lisa," etc With an Ulustrated Cover. 

The Mysteries of the Conrt of I^onis Napoleon. By EmiU ZttLa, 
author of*' Nana," ** L'Assommoir," •' Pot-Bouille," *' Helene," *'A Mad Love," etc 

In the Whirlpool. By EmiU Znln^ author of "Nana," " L'AMommoir," 
**Helene," "A Mad Love," " The Girl in Scarlet," etc. With an Illustrated Cover. 

Claude's i'/Onfcssion. By Emile Zola, author of " Nana," " L'Assommoir," " Pot- 
Bouille," "The Girl in Scarlet,' "La Belle Lisji," " Ileleno," "A Mad Love," etc. 

The Girl In Scarlet: or. The liOves of SiHere and Mlette. Bjf 

EmiU Zola, author of* Nana," " L'Assommoir," "Pot-Bouille," "Albine," etc. 

The Mysteries of Marseilles. By EmiU Znla, author of " L'A8w>mmoir,** 
" Nana," "Pot-Bouille," "The Girl in Scarlet," " La Belle Lisa," "Helene," etc. 

Alhine: or. The Ahbe's Temptation. By EmiU Zola, author of " Nana," 
" L'Assommoir," " The Girl in Scarlet," etc. With a portrait of "Albine" on cover. 

A Mad liOve; or. The Abbe and His Court. By EmUe Zola, author of 
"Nana," "L'Assommoir," " Ptit-Bouille," "The Girl in Scarlet," "Helene," etc. 

Helene. A Tale of Love and Passion. By EmiU Zola, author of " Nana," " Pct> 
Bouille," " The Girl in Scarlet," etc. With a portrait of "Helene" on the cover. 

La Belle Lisa; or. The Paris Market Girls. By EmiU Zola, author 
of" Nana," " L'Assommoir,'* " Pot-Bouille," "The Girl in Scarlet," "Albine," etc 

Mated al en Ferat. Bv EmiU Zola, author of "Nana," "L'Assommoir,*' "Pot- 
Bouille," "The Girl in Scarlet," "Ia Belle Lisa," "Helene,'* "Albine," etc 

Therese Raqnin. A Novel. £v £!mt2« Z^/a, author of "Nana," "L'Assommoir,** 
" Pot-Bouille," "The Girl in Scarlet," " La Belle Lisa," " Helene," "Albine," etc 

Nana*s Baufchter. Sequel to " Zola's 'Nana." Nana*s Baoi^hter. With 

an Illnstrated Cover with Portraits of the Heroines in the work. 


c;rpnE BoNHEUR DEs Dames; or, The Skop- 
je Girls of Paris," Eraile Zola's latest and most 
extraordinary novel, now being so greedily devoured 
throughout Europe and occasioning such a flood of com- 
ment, is herewith reproduced in English for the first time* 
While views may differ in regard to it in this country, no 
critic will be hardy enough to deny that the romance pos- 
sesses remarkable merit and interest of an unusually absorb- 
ing description. Its main theme is shop-girl life, which 
seems to be much the same in Paris as here, to be sur- 
rounded with the same temptations and to tend to the 
same objective point. Zola, as is the custom with him, 
takes up the evils of shop-girl life and thoroughly exposes 
them in order that they may be destroyed. He does not 
gloat over these evils, does not surround them with allu- 
ring glitter, does not conceal or cloak their enormity, but 
with the relentless hand of the moralist lays them bare 
that the world may see them, execrate them, and render 
them impossible for the future. 

As a framework for this exposure, Zola has taken one 
of those huge dry-goods stores so long in favor in Paris 
and Loudon, and steadily becoming popular iiy the larger 

liar iiy 


20 publishers' preface. 

cities of the United States. The emblem of this vast store 
is "The Bonheur des Dames." A complete history 
of the establishment is given ; the reader is shown how its 
proprietor started it in an exceedingly small way, how its 
business gradually swelled and swelled, and how, ulti- 
mately, it becanae one of the most colossal of the colossal 
caravansaries of Parisian trade, spreading consternation 
and ruin in the ranks of competing houses. The descrip- 
tion of this huge dry-goods store in the midst of its pros- 
perity is realistic to the utmost, and complete even to the 
smallest feature. The reader can almost see the vast estab- 
lishment, its counters and shelves piled with Parisian 
novelties and elegant goods imported from every quarter 
of the known world, so little work has Zola left for the 
imagination to do. 

"The Bonheur des Dames" gives employment to 
hosts of shop-girls and salesmen, the majority of whom are 
young, good-looking and worldly-minded. The proprietor, 
Octave Mouret, who figured as the hero of Zola's " Pot- 
Bouille," leads a fast life, and surrounds his shop-girls 
with temptations so powerful as to be in most cases irre- 
sistible, the gallant salesmen, in their sphere, also doing 
their best to pervert the young and pretty employes. One 
of M. Mouret's favorite and most successful snares is a 
sumptuous dinner, to which the shop-girl he has singled 
out as the victim of his arts is invited. 

Denise, the heroine, comes to Paris from the country to 
earn sufficient money to support herself and two brothers, 
one a sickly child and the other a robust youth given to 
dissipation and extravagance. She seeks and obtains em- 
ployment in " The Bonheur des Dames^" wJ: 

publishers' preface. 21 

arid troubles promptly begin. Denise is a handsome girl, 
but has not the slightest inclination to step aside from the 
straight and narrow path. She is good and pure in the 
highest sense of the words, and the various temptations 
which have proved so fatal to many of her companions, 
when applied to her, utterly fail of effect. The salesmen 
shower their attentions upon her, but she does not heed 
their perfidious professions, neither does she give the least 
encouragement to the detective watching the establishment, 
who also enrolls himself in the long list of her ardent 
admirers. Then M. Mouret casts his eyes in her direction 
and grows deeply interested, but she baffles his advances 
and declines his dinner invitations. Mouret promotes her 
to a managerial post in a new department. Nothing, 
however, modifies her rigid rule of conduct, and, finally, 
her employer offers her his hand in marriage. 

Of course, this sketch gives only a partial glimpse 
of the plot of Zola's new novel, but it will suffice to 
explain the aim and scope of the great romance, which is, 
in all respects, totally different from anything which its 
justly famous author has yet published. The language is 
strong and pointed, but, at the same time, is notably re- 
fined and free from harsh expressions. All the episodes 
are both novel and striking, while some of the incidents 
are of a nature peculiarly dramatic. 

The fascinating book abounds in telling descriptions of 
Paris, such descriptions as Zola alone can draw. They are 
marvels of vivid naturalism, and present the French 
capital uuder every possible aspect, with all its peculiar 
characteristics. Zola's knowledge of Paris is so extensive 
that whatever he writes about it is sure to be exceedingly^' 


graphic, aiid to bear the stamp of truthfiiln'ess on its 

Denise is a heroine of whom any author might well feel 
proud, and the fact that she differs so radically from Zola's 
other heroines demonstrates conclusively that the great 
novelist is as keen an upholder of purity as. any writer of 
fiction in the world to-day. The young sliop-girl ia 
sketched with a master hand, and it is plainly to be seen 
that Zola has taken special pains with her. There is 
nothing exaggerated about her. She is as natural as life 
itself, and her true nobility of soul fills the reader with 
admiration of the strongest kind. Her goodness and 
purity are inborn, and she seems actually to have no idea 
that she can possibly stray from duty and right. He? 
very innocence is, therefore, her safeguard and shield. 

The other characters are drawn with equal skill and 
effect, and from the leading personages to those of but 
slight importance not one is carelessly passed over, a 
circumstance which shows Zola's profound knowledge 
of humanity, and the conscientiousness with which be 
executes all his tasks. 

" The Bonheur deS: Dames " should he read every- 
where and by everybody. It is one of the greatest ancj 
best novels of the day. John Stirling, the translator^ 
lias fully preserved all the power, strength and interest of 
the French original. 

Digitized by 




:^Adcxx.£i ZOXJ.A.. 


"kagdalbn fbrat," **thb girx. in scarlet," "albine," 
"thb mystbribs of thb court of LOUIS napoleon," 


"a mad lovb ; OR, thb abbe and his court." 



DENISE had come on foot from the Saiat-Lazare 
station where a train from Cherbourg had brought 
her with her two brothei-s, after a night spent on the 
hard benches of a third class car. She held P^p^ by the 
hand and Jean followed at her heels. All three were 
weary with their journej^ frightened and bewildered 
by this vast Paris. They looked up at all the houses 
and stopped at every corner to ask their way to the Rue 
de la Michodidre in which their Uncle Baudu lived. 
But when the young girl at last turned into the Place 
Gaillop she stopped short in amazement. "Ohl" 
she exclaimed, " look at that, Jean 1 " Digitized by C^OOgle 


24 THE "bonhkur des dames." 

And they stood still, huddled close together. They 
were wearing out their shabby mourning for their 
father and were therefore all in black. She, thin for 
her twenty years, and with an air of great poverty, 
carried a light bundle ; a small brother about five 
years old clung to her arm and a taller one, robust 
and sixteen, lounged a little behind with empty hands 
hanging by his side. 

" Well I " she said after a long silence, ** that is a 
shop indeed ! " 

On the corner of Rue de la Michodidre and Rue 
Neuve-Saint-Augustin there stood a large Magasin de 
NouveautS^^ the goods displayed in the windows made 
the one brilliant spot in this soft, overcast October 
morning. Saint-Roch had just struck eight. There 
was no one in the street except employes going to 
their bureaux and housekeepers and servants running 
in haste to the shops. 

Before the doors two clerks standing on a high ladder 
were hanging some woolen stuffs, while in a window 
looking out on Rne Neuve-Saint-Angustin, another 
clerk kneeling and with his back turned, was carefully 
plaiting a piece of blue silk. From the shops still 
empty of customers, and where as yet few of the 
clerks had arrived, ca«»e a buzz like that of a newly 
awakened bee-hive. 

"Zounds!" said Jean. "That beats Valognes. 
Yours was not much like that ! " 

Denise shook her head. She had been two years 
-^ith Cornaille, the first retail merchant in her town, 

I this establishment on which she had come so 


unexpectedly and which seemed to her so enormous, 
appealed to her with irresistible force. She lingered, 
forgetting all else. The large doors on the Place 
Gaillon were all of glass and surmounted with gilding. 
Two allegorical figures, two laughing women with 
heads thrown back, were unrolling the sign "^m Bon- 
heur des Dames.'^ There were more windows along 
the Rue de la Michodidre and the Rue Neuve-Saint- 
Augustin, where they had recently added two houses 
in each street to their original establishment. It 
seemed an endless perspective of spotless glass and 
brilliant gilding. The interior was plainly visible. 
One young lady dressed in black was standing cut- 
ting a pencil, while two others behind were unfolding 
velvet mantles. 

" The Bonheur des I>ame%^'' read Jean, with the 
rippling laugh of a handsome youth who had had an 
adventure at Valognes. " That is very good ! It 
ought to bring everybody here." 

But Denise was absorbed in watching the display at 
the central door, outside of which on the sidewalk itself 
was a pile of merchandise, "at a bargain," inducements 
to cause customers to stop and enter the shop. Pieces 
of woollen goods were draped from above ; Merinos, 
Cheviots and other materials in neutral tints, slate 
gray, marine blue, and blue green, were labelled with 
huge white cards on which was the price. 

On one side near the threshold was a pile of nar- 
row fur trimming for dresses, down, white as snow, 
from the breasts of swans, rabbit skins to imitate 
ermine and soft gray bands of squirrebigitizedbyCjOOgle 

26 THE "bonhkur des dames." 

On the long table in the middle of the shop, were 
piled articles sold for almost nothing, gloves and knitted 
fichus, vests, and all sorts of warm, winter garments, 
striped and plain or with dashes of red. Denise saw 
plaids at forty-five centimes and mittens at five sous. 
It seemed to her like a Fair, it was as if the shop 
were boiling over and throwing the articles pell- 
mell into the street.. 

Uncle Baudu was forgotten. P^p^ himself clutched 
his sister's hand and opened his eyes wide. A carriage 
however compelled the three to leave the Square, 
where they had been standing. Mechanically they 
turned into the Rue Neuve-Saint-Augustin and fol- 
lowed the long row of windows, stopping at each 
one in succession. At the first they were fascinated 
by a complicated arrangement, at the next by parasols 
so placed as to form a roof like a rustic cabin, below 
were silk stockings hung on wire forms, some sprinkled, 
with roses, others of all shades, and black that looked 
like lace. Then there were gloves, with the long 
fingers and narrow palms of a Byzantine Virgin, with 
all the stiffness appertaining to feminine trifles that 
have not yet been worn. 

But the last window held these young people firmly 
rooted to the ground. An exhibition of silks, satins 
and velvets in the most delicious and delicate tints. 
High up were the velvets, black like a raven's wing 
and white like curdled milk. Lower down were the 
satins, rose and blue in rich lustrous folds, and lower 
still, the silks, the rainbow tints drawn up by skilful 
hands as if around a slender form, and thcoufifh Ih^ 

igi ize y g 


whole ran a light drapery of cream colored foulard. 
At the twio ends were colossal piles of the two silks of 
which this house had the exclusive proprietorship, 
the Pari^ Bvfiheur eihd the Cuir d" Or^ two exceptional 
manufactures which were expected to revolutionize the 

"Think of that faille for five francs sixty cen- 
times!" murmured Denise, in amazement. 

Jean began to tire of all this. He stopped a gentle- 
man who was passing: "Will you tell me the way, 
sir, to the Rue de la MichodiSre ? " 

When he was told to take the first turning to the 
right, the three young people were obliged to go past 
the shop again, and in doing so Denise found it impos- 
sible to pass a window in which were displayed* " Conr 
fection% dea Dame8.'^ With Cornaille, at Valognes, she 
had especial charge of the confections. But she had 
never seen anything like this. At the back of the 
window she saw outspread, like the veil of an altar, a 
Brussels lace scarf of great value. Flounces of Point 
d'Alen§on were looped in wreaths, and from above 
came a stream of all kinds of laces — Malines, Valen- 
ciennes, Appliqu^, Point de Venise, Then the con- 
fections! In the center was a velvet mantle with its 
garniture of silver fox, on one side a silk circular lined 
with squirrel, on the other a paletot trimmed with 
cocks' plumes, evening cloaks of white cashmere 
trimmed with chenille fringe or swansdown. Every 
taste and purse could be suited, for there were 
wraps from twenty-nine francs up to the velvet 
xnantle marked at eighteen hundred francsv^C^Ogle 



The wire frames held out the folds of the stuff — the 
large hips exaggerated the slendeniess of the waist, 
while the head was replaced by the huge card held by 
a pin. Mirrors on both sides of the window were so 
arranged that they reflected these forms and multiplied 
them endlessly until the whole street seemed to be 
filled with those beautiful women for sale, who carried 
instead of heads, big cards with their price affixed. 

"They are wonderful ! " murmured Jean, who could 
find no other words in which to express his emotion. 
He himself had stood motionless and open-mouthed, 
charmed by all this feminine luxury. He had a 
certain girlish beauty of which he seemed to have 
robbed liis sister — a dazzling complexion, russet-col- 
ored curling hair, with lips and eyes dewy with ten- 
derness. By his side Denise looked thinner than ever 
with her long face in which her mouth looked too large 
— her complexion seemed already faded under her 
blonde hair. And P^p^, who was also blonde, was 
equally fascinated by the lovely ladies in the window. 
This little group was so quaint and striking — this sad 
looking girl between this pretty child and handsome 
lad — that people turned with smiles to gaze at them. 

A stout man with white hair and a large, yellow 
face, standing at the door of a shop opposite, had been 
watching them for some time. He was looking with 
indignation at all this display at the Bonheur de% 
Dames, when the evident admiration of this girl and 
her brother put the finishing touch to his exasperation. 
What fools they were to stand in this senseless way 
before the parade made by that charlataBsdbyCjOOgle 

DE-s dames/* 29 

"And the uncle?" said Denise, with a start. 
*' We are in the Rue de la MichodiSre," said Jean. 
**He must live near here." 

They looked up and turned around. Then, and only 
tlien, did they see above the head of the stout man a 
green sign, on which were yellow letters greatly faded 
by the rain : 

Baudu, Successor to Hauchecome. 

This shop had been once painted, but was now 
very dingy and dull. It had only three windows in 
the front, and these were square and simply orna- 
mented with an iron railing. But Denise, whose eyes 
were still dazzled by the magnificence of the Bonheur 
des Dames^ was struck by the low ceiling of this shop 
and its scanty supply of light. It was scarcely possi- 
ble to see the color of the goods in the window. Tlie 
open doors seemed to lead into the darkness and 
dampness of a cellar. 

'•• Tliere is the place ! " said Jean. 

"Weill then we must go in, that is all," answered 
Penise. "Come, P^p^." 

The three were greatly troubled and overcome with 
timidity. When their father had died, carried away by 
the same fever which had taken their mother a month 
before, their Uncle Baudu, in the emotion of this 
double loss, had kindly written to his niece that there 
would be a place for her with him whenever she might 
decide to try her fortune in Paris ; but this letter had 
been written nearly a year, and the young girl "^If 


repented that she had left Valognes so suddenly and 
without ^rst communicating with her uncle, who did / 
not know them, never having set his foot in his native 
town since lie left there, a very young man, to become 
a clerk with the draper Hauchecorne, whose daughter 
he finally married. 

"Monsieur Baudu?" asked Denise, finally deciding 
to address this stout man who was still watching them 
with evident curiosity. 

" I am Monsieur Baudu," he said. 

Then Denise blushed and stammered: 

" Ah I so much the better. I am Denise, and this is 
Jean, and this is P^p^. You see, uncle, we have come." 

Baudu seemed thunderstruck. His great bloodshot 
eyes rolled in his yellow face, and his words came 
hesitatingly. He was evidently miles away from this 
family that had tumbled down upon him from the 

"How! What! You here!" he said, over and 
over again. "But why are you not at Valognes? 
Why are you here?" 

In her sweet, unsteady voice she began her explana- 
tions. After her father's death, who had lost every- 
thing in Tiis dyeing establishment, she had been left to 
take care of the two children. Her salary at Cor- 
naille's was not enough to support them all. Jean 
was with a cabinet-maker, a repairer of old furniture, 
but he received no wages. He had learned a great 
deal, and could carve figures, and even one day, hav- 
ing discovered a bit of ivory, he had amused himself 
in cuttiiig a head. A gentleman had seen tt— in faetv 


it Vas tliis gentleman who had decided them to leave 
Valognes, and had found a place for Jean with a carver 
ih Paris. 

" You understand, uncle, Jean will begin his appren- 
ticeship to-morrow. I have no money to pay, he will 
be fed and lodged. Then I thought that Pdp^ and I 
might do something here. We could not be worse off 
than at Valognes." 

She said nothing about an escapade of Jean*s, 
Nothing of the letters written by him to a young girl 
belonging to one of the noble families of the town, of 
the kisses exchanged over a wall, of the scandal, in 
short, which had determined her to leave the place and 
to accompany her brother to Paris that she might 
watch over him. Her heart was filled with maternal 
solicitude for this bright, handsome fellow whom all 
tbe women adored. 

Uncle Baudu was not satisfied. He asked her more 
questions, biit when he heard her speak of her brothers, 
his voice Softened. 

"Your father then left you nothing? I always 
supposed there was something. I advised him in my 
letters not to touch that dyeing business. An excel- 
lent heart but no brains — no — no brains whatever I 
And y6u, child that you are, have these two boys 
to look out for ! " 

His bilious face lighted up. The expression with 
which he surveyed the Bonheur dea Dames had van- 
ished. Suddenly he perceived that he bari-ed the 
door. ^ 

r^ • *» T -I • -I Digitized b t 

" Come m, he exclaimed, " you may as well come m 

32 THE "bonheur des dames." 

now that you are here. Come in, it is much better than 
to stand out here where we can see all this nonsense." 

And with a heavy frown at his opposite neighbors 
he made way for these children, by himself entering 
the shop and shouting to his wife and daughter. 

" Elizabeth ! Genevidve ! Come down, here is com- 
pany for you ! " 

But Denise and the boys hesitated before the dark- 
ness of the shop. Blinded by the glare of the. street 
they half shut their eyes and felt their way slowly and 
carefully with an instinctive fear of some treacherous 
step; and close together, with the child clinging to 
the maiden's skirts and the tall youth behind, they 
entered with a certain reluctant grace. 

"Come on, come on I " said Baudu. 

Then in a few short phrases he told Madame Baudu 
and the daughter who the new visitors were. Madame 
was a small colorless woman — hair, e3^es and lips were 
white. Genevidve was almost as bad as her mother, 
and looked like a plant that has grown in the shade. 
Her hair was magnificent, and growing as it did where 
there seemed to be such scanty vitality, imparted to 
her a certain charm. " Come in," said the two women. 
" You are very welcome." 

And they niade Denise take a chair behind the 
counter. P^p^ immediately clambered upon his sister's 
knees, while Jean, leaning against the shelves, crept as 
close to her side as possible. They gradually became 
more at ease, an4 their eyes, accustomed to the dark- 
ness, soon took in the oaken counters polished by 
ong use, the piles of merchandise rising almost lo 


the roof. There was a smell of dyes and woolens 
brought out by the dampness. 

At the back of the shop were two clerks and a girl 
arranging some pieces of white flannel. 

" Perhaps this little gentleman would like to have 
something to eat?" said Madame Baudu, smiling at 

" No, thanks," answered Denise. " We took a cup 
of milk at a cafi near the station." 

And as Genevieve glanced at the little bundle that 
Denise had laid on the ground she added, "I left one 
trunk at the station." 

She colored, for she began to understand this was 
no way to make her appearance among these people. 
The train had scarce left Valognes when she began 
to feel timid and regretful, and this was why, on her 
arrival, she had left her trunk, and given the children 

" We milst have a little talk — a sensible talk," said 
Baudu, suddenly. " I wrote to you, to be sure, but 
that was a year ago, and you see, my poor girl, business 
is not what it was a year ago." 

He stopped, choked by an emotion that he did not 
wish to show. Madame Baudu and Genevieve dropped 
their eyes with an air of resignation. 

" Oh ! it will all come right, I know that," he said, 
" it does not trouble me, only for the present I have 
dismii^sed some of my clerks; I keep only three persons 
here now, and do not see my way clear to engaging a 
fourth. You see, my child, that I cannot take you as 
I promised."^ o,..d.,Google 

34 THE "bonheur des dames." 

Denise had become very pale. He went on : 

" It would not be best either for you, or for us." 

'* Very good, Uncle," she replied with great diflBculty. 
*'T shall try to find something else." 

These Baud us were by no means bad people, but 
they pitied themselves, saying that they had never had 
any luck. When their^ trade was good they were 
obliged to bring up five boys, of whom three died at 
twenty. The fourth had turned out badly, the fifth 
had gone to Mexico as a captain. Genevieve alone 
remained with them. . All this family had been terribly 
expensive, and Baudu made, in addition, the great 
mistake of buying at Rambouillet the country house 
of his wife's father, a great barrack of a place. 

"You ought to have written to me," he continued, 
ashamed of his harshness, and lashing himself into 
anger. ".Had you done so, I should have told you to 
remain where you were. When I heard of your father's 
death things were different, and I was too impulsive. 
I can't conceive why you did not let us know yoii 
were coming ; it is really very embarrassing." 

He raised his voice, it comforted him to hear it. His 
wife and daughter sat with their eyes riveted to the 
ground, they were evidently of submissive natures and 
never interfered. Jean in the meantime became very 
pale, and Denise pressed the frightened child to her 

"Very good, Uncle," she said, as two large tears 
dropped on P^p^'s head. " We will go away." 

He checked himself. An embarrassed silence reigned 
"n the shop. Presently he began less '^'^^^"^^^^^^(^Qle 

igi ize y g 


"I am not putting you out of doors. As long as 
you are here, you must sleep under this roof to-night. 
After that we will see what can be done." 

Madame Baudu and Genevieve saw that they could 
arrange things. There was no trouble about Jean 
as he was to begin his apprenticeship the next day. 
As to P6p^, he would be as comfortable as possible 
with Madame Gras, an old lady who lived in the 
Rne des Orties and took children under ten, to board 
at forty francs per month. 

Denise said she could pay the first month. She must 
look for a situation for herself, she would try and find 
one in that quarter. 

" Does not Vincard want a saleswoman ? " asked 

"Precisely I" cried Baudu. "We will go and see 
after breakfast. We must strike while the iron is 

Not a single customer had come to interrupt this 
family explanation. The shop was dark and empty. 
The two clerks and the young lady in the rear con- 
tinued their work with whispers and suppressed laughs. 

Presently three ladies appeared. Denise was left 
alone for a moment. She kissed P^p^, her heart 
heavy with the thought of their coming separation. 
The child, with a pretty coaxing gesture, hid his head, 
and said never a word. When Madame Baudu and 
Genevieve came back, they said he was a dear little fel- 
low. Denise assured them that he was never noisy — 
that he liked to be caressed, and was no trouble to 
any one. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


At breakfast they talked of children and house- 
keeping, of life in Paris and life in the country, btit 
in little vague, unsatisfactory phrases, like relatives 
who are embarrassed at knowing so little of each 
other. Jean had gone to the door and became greatly 
interested at all he saw, and at the pretty girls who 
smiled upon him as they passed. 

At ten o'clock a maid servant appeared. Generally 
this table was laid for Baudu, Genevieve and the head 
clerk, and another at eleven was for Madame Baudu, 
the other clerk and the young lady. 

" Now for soup ! " cried the draper, turning toward 
his niece. 

When all were seated in the narrow dining-room 
behind the shop, he called his head clerk, who lingered. 

" Colomban ! Colomban, I say ! " 

The young man excused himself, wishing to finish 
his work with the flannels. He was a stout fellow of 
twenty-five. His face was round, his mouth large and 
loose, and his eyes were cunning. 

"There is time for everything," answered Baudu, 
settling himself squarely in his chair, and beginning to 
cut up a bit of cold veal with the prudence and skill 
of experience. The thin slices were of almost uniform 

He helped every one, even cut the bread himself. 
Denise kept F6p6 at her side, that she might make him 
eat properly. But the darkness of the dining-room 
disturbed him ; she too looked about with a feeling of 
discomfort. She was accustomed to the large, light 
ns of the provinces. A single win§o^w^|i^^^^ 


looked a little courtyard which communicated with 
the street through the black alleyway of the house. 
And this courtyard, damp and ill smelling, was like a 
well with a small circle of light at the bottom. On 
winter days the gas burned from morning until night 
in this dining-room, and when the season permitted its 
disuse, the room was more dreary than before. It 
was with diflBculty that Denise could distinguish the 
morsels of food on her plate. 

" There's a fellow with a good appetite," said Baudu 
when Jean had finished his veal. "If he works as 
well as he eats, he will be a big man I But you, my 
girl, have not eaten a mouthful. By the way, tell me, 
now that we can talk a little, why you never married 
at Valognes?" 

Denise dropped the glass she was carrying to her 

"Oh! uncle. How could I marry? What would 
have become of the children!" 

She laughed heartily at the ideifi. Then, too, what 
man would care to marry her — she hadn't a sou, she 
was no bigger than a sparrow, and was very plain 
beside. No, no — she would never marry. She had 
enough to do with these two children. 

" Then you are making a great mistake ! " answered 
her uncle, decidedly. "Every woman needs the sup- 
port of a man. If you had come across some good 
man, you and these two boys would never have 
appeared, in this way, like wandering gipsies." 

He stopped talking, to divide a dish of potatoes, 
with parsimony but with strict justiceeigitizTM^^-with r 

38 THE "bonhetjr des dames 


wave of the spoon toward Genevieve and Colomban, 
he said : 

*' Now, those two are to be married in spring, if the 
winter season proves good." 

This was the patriarchal habit of the house. The 
founder, Aristide Finet, had given his daughter 
Desirde to his head clerk Hauchecorne ; he, Baudu, 
who had reached Rue MichodiSre with seven francs in 
his pocket, had. married Elizabeth, the daughter of 
Hauchecorne ; and he, in his turn, would surrender his 
daughter Genevidve and the shop to Colomban as 
soon as business justified his doing so. This marriage 
had been delayed three years from a scruple — from 
exaggerated probity. He had received the house in 
a prosperous condition, and he did not wish it to pass 
into the hands of a son-in-law with its trade and pros- 
perity diminished and hampered by doubtful operations. 

Baudu continued: '* Colomban was from Ram- 
bouillet, as was the father of Madame Baudu, in 
fact, there was a distant relationship between them. 
Colomban was a good worker; he had been in the 
shop ten years and had worked his way up." 

While her uncle talked, Denise looked from Colom- 
ban to Genevidve. They were sitting next each other 
at table, but they did not pay much attention one to 
the other — there were no furtive smiles exchanged, 
and no significant glances. From the day the young 
man had entered this establishment he had looked 
forward to this marriage. He had passed through 
all the different steps, and been by degrees admitted 
to the confidence and intimacy of the familyoo^^ 


patience and regularity had been that of _a clock. 
The certainty of having Genevieve had prevented him 
from desiring her. And the young girl, in her turn, 
learned to look on the arrangement as a matter of 
course. She loved him, with the gravitjrof a reserved, 
self-contained nature, and with a depth of passion of 
which she herself had no idea. 

" When wishes and duties agree— =-" began Denise, 
smiling and trying to be amiable. 

" Yes — that is about it," interrupted Colomban, who 
had not yet spoken, but was eating very slowly. 

Genevieve turned and looked at him. 

"It is only necessary to understand each other, and 
then everything is right," she said. 

Their affection had grown to maturity in this rez-de- 
chaussSe of old Paris. It was like a flower in a cellar. 
For ten years she had known him, spending all her 
days with him behind the piles of cloth in the sub- 
dued light of the shop, and morning and night they 
sat side by side in the narrow dining-room. They 
could not have been more secluded, had they lived 
on a desert island. One doubt, one pang of jealousy, 
would have shown the girl that she had given herself 
away entirely and forever, out of emptiness of heart 
• and weariness of head. 

Denise had noticed a certain uneasiness in the look 
that Genevieve had given Colomban. She replied, 
therefore : 

"Ah I when one loves, one readily understands." 

Baudu looked over the table. He had distributed 
slices of cake, and to celebrate the arrival Q^cJi^^ili^a- 


tives he asked for a pot of p;reserved gooseberries, 
which liberality astonished Colomban. P^p^, who had 
been very good, was demoralized by the sweetmeats. 
Jean, who had pricked up his ears when the talk 
turned upon marriage, examined his cousin Genevidve ; 
he thought her too pale, and mentally compared her to 
a little white rabbit with black ears and red eyes. 

"Enough is as good as a feast," said the draper, "let 
us make room for others. There is no reason when 
we allow ourselves a little indulgence, that we should 
abuse it." 

Madame Baudu, the other clerk and the young lady, 
now in their turn established themselves in the dining- 
room. jDenise seated herself near the door, waiting 
until her uncle could take her to Vincard's. Pep^ 
was playing at her feet, and Jean had resumed his 
post of observation on the threshold. For more 
than an hour Denise interested herself in what was 
going on. Occasionally a customer would appear — one 
lady, then two together. The shop retained its musty 
odor and its darkness, while on the other side of the 
street the Bonheur des Dames continued to attract 
her by its gayety. The sky was still overcast, and 
there was a suggestion of rain in the air, which was 
unusually soft and warm for the season. 

The Bo7iheur des Dames was crowded; purchasers 
poured in and out ; everything and everybody seemed 
in a flutter of excitement. 

Denise had ever since the morning been under the 

influence of this fascination. This establishment, which 

'^e saw more people enter than had come into Cor- 


naille's in a half year, bewildered and attracted her. 
Mingled with her desire' to pass through those doors, 
there was also a vague fear, which was in itself almost 
a delight. At the same time her uncle's shop made 
her feel ill. This chilly place impressed her with 
unreasoning disdain and instinctive repugnance. All 
her sensations, her timid entrance, the cool reception 
given by her relatives, the dismal breakfast in that 
prison-like room, her long waiting in that old shop 
where business was slowly dying, all culminated in a 
dumb protest — in a passionate longing for light and 
life. And in spite of herself, her eyes turned per- 
petually toward the Bonheur des DameSy as if she 
needed to warm herself in its glow. 

" At least, there are people there,"^she murmured. 

But she regretted these words when she saw the 
Baudus near her. Madame Baudu, who had finished 
her breakfast long ago, stood pale and stern, gazing at 
the monster before her, with mute despair. Genevieve 
watched Colomban with growing uneasiness. She saw 
that when he believed himself unseen, he stood in silent 
ecstasy watching the girls who sold the cloaks and 
mantles, whom he could see from his usual place. 
Baudu contented himself with saying : 

" All that glitters is not gold. Patience." 

He closed his lips for fear of saying too much. The 
family evidently were putting a great restraint upon 
themselves in the presence of these children, who had 
arrived only that morning. Finally the draper made 
an effort and tore himself from the spectacle on the 
opposite side of the way. Digitized by Google 


" Come," he said, " we must go to Vincard's. Situa- 
tions are so much in demand, that to-morrow may 
very likely be too late." 

Before he went away, he gave his second clerk orders 
to go to the station for the trunk Denise had left there. 
And Madame Baudu, to whose care the young girl 
confided P^p^, decided that she would take advantage 
of the opportunity to take him to the Rue des Orties 
to call on Madame Gras. Jean promised his sister not 
to stir from the shop. 

Baudu, as he walked down the Rue Gaillon with his 
niece, told her how Vincard had created a specialty in 
silks. " He has had trouble like the rest of the world, 
but he looks twice at every penny he spends and 
so makes both .ends meet. I think he intends to 
retire on account of his rheumatism." 

The shop was in the Rue Neuve-des-Petits-Champs, 
near the Passage Choiseul. It was clean and bright, 
though small, and had not a very large supply of 
goods. Baudu and Denise found Vincard occupied 
with two gentlemen. 

"Don't disturb yourself," cried the draper. *'We 
are in no hurry ; we will wait." 

And discreetly withdrawing toward the door, Baudu 
leaned over his niece and whispered : 

"The thin one is in the silk department at the 
Bonheur, and the other is a manufacturer of Lyonfi." 

Denise comprehended that Vincard was trying to 
sell out to Robineau, the clerk at the Bonheur des 
Dames. Frankly and gayly he gave his word, with the 
facility of a man who does not attach raiiJehbii^ldQglie 


to oaths. According to him, he was coining gold, and 
then he interrupted himself to complain of that con- 
founded rheumatism which forced him to throw away- 
such opportunities. 

But llobineau, nervous and excited, became very 
impatient. He knew, he said, that a certain kind of 
silks had already been killed by the vicinity of the 

"No, it is not that. It was Vabre's wife who 
swallowed up everything." 

Then Gaujean, the silk manufacturer, interfered. 
Their voices were lowered. He was accusing the large 
shops of ruining French manufacturers ; three or four 
of them laid down the law and governed the market, 
and he allowed it to be understood that in his opinion 
the only way to fight them was to favor smaller estab- 
lishments, and the specialists to whom the future 
belonged. He then proceeded to offer large credit to 

" You see how the Bonheur has behaved to yourself," 
he said. "No regard has been paid to services ren- 
dered. You were promised the situation of head clerk, 
and had been expecting it for some time, when Bou- 
themont suddenly appeared, and without the smallest 
claim that any one can discover, obtained it at once ! " 

This injustice evidently still galled Robineau. Never- 
theless he hesitated. He explained that the money 
was not his, it came from his wife who had inherited 
some sixty thousand francs, and he was afraid to risk 
this sum. He would prefer, he said, to cut off his two 
hands rather than compromise it. Digitized by (^OOgle 

44 THE "bonheur des dames/' 

" No, I cannot decide to-day,'' he said, in conclusion. 
" Let me have time to reflect. We will see each other 
again in a day or two." 

" As you please," answered Vincard, concealing his 
disappointment under an air of extreme good nature. 
" You know that it is only my wretched health — " 

Then coming into the centre of the shop, he said : 

"And what can I do for you. Monsieur Baudu? " 

The draper, who was listening with all his ears, pre- 
sented Denise, told as much as seemed to him best of 
her story, and said that she had been in a shop in the 
provinces for two years. 

Vincard pretended to be in great despair 

"Oh I what a pity. I have been looking for a 
saleswoman for a week. But I engaged one not two 
hours ago." 

Denise seemed dumbfounded, and no one spoke 
Then Robineau, who had been watching her, was 
probably touched by her look of poverty, for he came 
forward and said : 

"We need some one ourselves in the cloak room, I 

Baudu could not restrain himself. 

"No, no," he cried, "she can't go to you — " Then 
he checked himself. Denise flushed deeply. To enter 
that great establishment ! What joy ! She would 
never have dreamed of it— and the mere idea swelled 
her heart with pride. 

"And wliy not, pray?" asked Robineau, in great 

surprise. "It would be a good opening for the young 

idy. I advise her to call early on Madame-=5ifti?§^, 

THE "bonheur des dames/' 45 

the forewoman. The worst that can happen is that 
she will not be accepted." 

The Draper, to conceal his inward rebellion, answered 
in vague phrases. He knew Madame Aur^lie, or, at all 
events, her husband. This man — the cashier, a big, 
stout fellow, had had his arm injured by an omnibus. 
Then, turning hastily to Denise : 

"But, after all, it is her affair, not mine. She is free 
to do as she chooses." 

And he went away after bowing to Gaujean and 
Robineau. Vincard accompanied him to the door, 
renewing the expression of his regret. Denise lin- 
gered in the middle of the shop ; she was thoroughly 
intimidated, and yet anxious to obtain some more 
definite information from the clerk. But she dared 
not ask a question. She bowed her thanks to him 
silently, and followed her uncle. 

Baudu never addressed a word to his niece. He 
walked so fast that she was obliged almost to run at 
his side. Just as he turned into the Rue Michodi^re, 
a man who kept a little shop opposite, beckoned to 

Denise stopped her uncle. 

"What is it, Bonnat?" asked the Draper. 

Bonnat was an old man, with a head like that of a 
prophet, with a long beard and long hair, and piercing 
eyes under heavy overhanging brows. He sold canes 
and umbrellas, repaired them, and even carved handles, 
which had won for him quite a reputation as an artist 
in the neighborhood. Denise glanced at the windows 
of the shop where canes and umbrellasopi^e arranged 

46 THE "bonheur des dames/' 

in regular rows; then slie raised her eyes and was 
amazed at the house itself; it was built in between the 
Bonheur dea Dames and a great Louis Fourteenth 
Hotel. How it was ever pushed into this narrow slit 
it was impossible to divine. It would certainly have 
tumbled down but for its supports on either side, for 
the slates of the roof were half off, the wood work 
about the windows rotten and broken, and the whole 
place in a state of entire dilapidation. 

" You know that he has written to my landlord and 
made an offer for the house ? " said Bonnat, looking 
steadily at the draper with his flashing eyes. 

Baudu turned pale ; his shoulders seemed to become 
more bowed, but he did not speak. The two men 
stood face to face in silence, for some minutes. 

"We might have expected it or anything else," 
murmured Baudu, presently. 

Then Bonnat shook his long hair and flowing beard 
in a rage. 

" Let him buy the house, he shall pay four times 
what it is worth. But I swear to you that so long as I 
live he shall not have one stone. My lease has twelve 
years to run. We will see I we will see 1 " 

It was a declaration of war. Bonnat turned toward 
the Bonheur des Dames, which neither of them had 
mentioned. Baudu shook his head in silence; then he 
crossed the street to his own shop, saying as he went : 

" Great Heavens ! Great Heavens ! " 

Denise, who had heard what was said, followed her 
uncle. Madame Baudu had just come in with P^p6, 
and said that Madame Gras would take him whenever 


his sister wished it. Jean had vanished, which greatly 
troubled his sister. When at last he returned, with an 
animated face, and began to talk enthusiastically of 
the Boulevard, she looked at him with a sad expres- 
sion which brought the color to his cheeks. Their 
trunk had arrived, and they would sleep that night in 
the attic. 

"And what about Vincard?" asked Madame Baudu. 

The Draper told of his useless application, and then 
added that a situation had been indicated to their 
niece, and with outstretched arm toward the Bonheur 
des DameSj he said, in a tone of intense contempt : 

" It is over there ! " 

All the family were wounded by this declaration. 
That evening the first table was at five o'clock. 
Denise and the two children took their seats at it 
with Baudu, Genevidve and Colomban. 

One gas burner lighted and warmed the little dining 
room, where the air was thick with the odor of food. 
The meal was a silent one. At dessert Madame Baudu, 
who could never sit still any where, left the shop to 
take a chair behind her niece, and then the flood-gates 
were lifted, and every body relieved their minds by 
dilating upon the monster opposite. 

*' It is your own affair, you are free," Baudu said 
again. "We do not wish to influence you — only if 
you knew — " 

Then he told her the history of this Octave Mouret, 
a fellow wlio had come to Paris from the South, a mere 
adventurer, and who almost immediately began to 
make himself conspicuous with several WoOiJfie^iJ'CjB^S^lC 

48 TEfE "bonheur des dames." 

was one scandal which had never yet been forgotten. 
And then came the conquest of Madame H^douin,*who 
liad brought him the Bonheur des Dames, 

"That poor Caroline!" interrupted Madame Baudu. 
" She was a distant relative of mine. Ah ! if she liad 
lived, things would have been different. She would 
never have allowed us to be assassinated. He killed 
her, you know. Yes, one morning she came to visit 
the buildings, then being put up, and she fell into a 
hole. Three days later she died. She who had never 
been ill in her life, who was so beautiful ! I tell you, 
there is blood on the foundations of that house." 

And she lifted her pale, trembling hand and pointed 
to the great establishment over the way. 

Denise, who listened as to a fairy tale, shivered 
from head to foot. The fear she had felt all day long 
under the strong attraction this establishment held for 
her, came, perhaps, from the blood of this woman, 
which she fancied reddened the mortar that held the 
stones together. 

" One would say that it had brought him happiness," 
added Madame Baudu ; by " him " she meant Mouret, 
but she did not name him. 

The Draper shrugged his shoulders in contempt of 
these fables. He resumed his narration and explained 
the situation from a commercial standpoint. The 
Bonheur des Dames had been founded in 1822 by 
the Deluze Brothers. On the death of the eldest, his 
daughter Caroline had married the son of a linen man- 
ufacturer, Charles Hedouard, and later, when she 
had become a widow, she married tljijfgti^J^p^-ftoal^ 

THE "bonheur i>es dames/'# 49 

brought him the half of the shop. Three months 
afterward Uncle Deluze died without children, so that 
when Caroline died, this Mouret became sole heir, sole 
proprietor of the Bonheur des Dames. Was there ever 
such luck! A most dangerous man — a man who will 
change the whole Quartier^ if he is allowed!" con- 
tinued Baudu ; ** I think that Caroline, who was a 
little romantic, was carried away by the extravagant 
ideas of this man, who bought first, the house on the 
right, then the house on the left, and after his wife's 
death he purchased two more, so that the shop has 
gone on growing, always growing, until it threatens to 
devour us all now ! " 

He addressed himself to Denise. In fact, he was 
talking for her, recapitulating with a feverish desire to 
satisfy himself, the heads of this story by which he was 
haunted. He became very violent. 

Madame Baudu did not speak again but sat motion- 
less ; Genevifive and Colomban with downcast eyes 
picked up and ate mechanically, all the bread crumbs 
within their reach. It was so close and warm in the 
little room that F6p6 had fallen asleep, and Jean's eyes 
were gradually closing. 

"Patience!" Baudu angrily exclaimed. "These 
people will fall and break their necks soon. Honest 
men need only fold their arms and wait for it. Mouret 
is passing through a crisis now, I know it. He has. 
put all his profits in these mad schemes. Besides, 
in order to obtain capital he has induced his employfe 
to place their money with him. He has not a sou now, 
and if a miracle does not take place, if his salesarajui^ 


quadrupled, as he hopes, you will see what a fall will 
come. I am not malicious, but upon my word I will 
illuminate when that day arrives ! " 

He continued his oration with such angry bitter- 
ness that one would have supposed the fall of the 
Bonh4ur des Dames would re-establish his commercial 
prosperity. Had ever any one seen anything like it ! 
A shop where everything was sold — a Bazar. Then 
the clerks and the saleswomen who did precisely as 
they pleased, who treated the customers and the goods 
like so many packages, and who left their master or 
were dismissed by him for any trifle, a mere word 
was enough. 

These people had no address, no tact. Now there 
was Colomban, he knew how to sell goods. The great 
art was not to sell much but to sell at a high price. 
He could tell, too, how he had been treated ; how he 
had become one. of the family; how his linen had 
been bleached and mended ; how he had been nursed 
when ill. 

To all these statements Colomban said, " certainly, 

Baudu turned to him and exclaimed : 

"You are the last, my good fellow. I shall have 
no more clerks, for of the present confusion which 
is called commerce, I know nothing, and I much prefer 
to go away where I can hear no more ! " 

Genevieve, with her head slightly inclined toward 
one shoulder, as if her thick hair were too heavy for 
her, watched the smiling clerk ; and in her eyes there 
was suspicion, and a desire to see if Colomban did vtfit 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

the"bonheur des dames." 51 

color under undeserved praise. But as he had been 
brought up under the discipline of the old system of 
business he retained his tranquillity, and his good 
natured air hid the expression of duplicity around 
his mouth. 

In the meantime Baudu was continuing to call the 
people opposite assassins, who were laboring to destroy 
all home life among their employes ; then was Madame 
L'Homme, her husband and son, all three employed 
in the Bonheur ; they have no real home, they dined 
at restaurants and lived in a Hotel. His dining-room 
was not large certainly, and he wished there was more 
air and light in it, but at all events it was his home. 
As he spoke his eyes wandered around the room, and a 
nervous trembling shook him from head to foot at the 
unexpressed idea that the savages might some day, 
when they had finished his shop, drive him from this 

Notwithstanding the conviction expressed as to 
the final ruin of his rival he was in reality in 
deadly terror, for he knew well that the quartier 
was becoming slowly swallowed up. 

" I don't tell you all this to disgust you, my girl," 
he resumed, trying to be calm. *'If it is to your 
interest to enter that establishment, I shall be the 
first to say, enter it." 

" I think I will try. Uncle," murmured Denise, who 
had become more and more desirous to enter the 
Bonheur as she listened to all that had been said. 

He placed his elbows on the table and looked at 

-I • - .1 Digitized by VjOOSI€ 

hex latently. o 


" Tell rae," he said, " do you think it right that a 
Magmin de NouveautSs should sell everything. For- 
merly when trade was conducted on honest principles, 
NouveavtS» included tissues, that was all. To-day the 
only idea seems to be to sell everything. This is what 
the Quartier is complaining of, for the small shops are 
beginning to suffer dreadfully. This Mouret is ruin- 
ing them ; Bedor^ and his sister in the Rue Gtaillon have 
lost the half of their clientele; Madame Tatin who sells 
ladies underwear has been obliged to put down her 
prices. The effect of the establishment opposite is 
felt as far as the Rue Neuve-des-Petits-Champs. I 
was told, that the Yaupouiile Brothers, the furriers, 
can't stand it much longer, calicoes and furs in the 
same shop ! Upon my word it is ridiculous ! That is 
Mouret's idea." 

" And gloves too," said Madame Baudu. " He has a 
glove counter. Yesterday I was passing through the 
Rue Neuve-Saint-Augustin, Quinette was standing at 
his door looking so sad that I really did not dare ask 
him how he was getting on. This poor Quinette will 
soon do nothing but clean gloves." 

" Then he sells umbrellas," interposed Baudu, "that 
is the crowning folly. Bonnat says that Mouret has 
done this simply to ruin him ; but Bonnat is strong, he 
won't allow himself to have his throat cut. Our day 
will come later ! " 

He went on to speak of other merchants, and passed 
the whole Quartier in review. Sometimes he would 
drop a word or two which he would seek to retract. 

" If Vincard wished to sell, they might all pack up 


«nd go, for Vincard was like the rats, who run away 
from houses just before they fall." Then he began to 
talk of an alliance between the small firms against 
this Colossus. His voice trembled as did his hands. 

" I don*t know that I have so much to complain of 
after all. As yet the scoundrel only keeps cloths for 
women's garments ; light ones for robes, and heavier 
for mantles. People still come to me to buy men's 
clothing, velveteens, and cloth for lining, without 
speaking of flannels and such things, of which there 
is not a better selection than mine in Paris. But he 
exasperates me by planting himself directly in front of 
my door. You saw his display of goods; well, he in- 
variably plants his most beautiful confections in a 
frame work, of big pieces of dark cloth. I should be 
*shamed to resort to such means. For more than a 
hundred years has my shop been known, and I never 
needed to place such heaps at the door. So long as 
I live the shop shall remain just as I took it, with its 
four pieces of goods, two on the right, two on the left, 
Dot more." 

The whole family were thrilled with emotion. 
Genevieve finally spoke: 

"Our customers like us, papa. We will hope for 
the best. To-day Madame Desforges and Madame 
de Boves were here, and I expect Madame Marly 
to-morrow for some flannels." 

"And I," said Colomban, "received yesterday a 
command from Madame Bourdelais. It is true that 
she spoke of an English cheviot, ten cents lower on.a 
yard than with us ! " ^ ^^ ^ ^ 

54 THE "bonheur des dames." 

" And to think," murmured Madame Baudu, in her 
slow, weary voice, " that we have seen that house when 
it was no larger than a pocket handkerchief. Yes, my 
dear Denise, when it was founded by the Deluze it 
had just one window on the Rue Neuve-Saint-Augus- 
tin, where two pieces of cotton lay with three pieces 
of calico. One could not turn round in the shop, it 
was so small. Our establishment, which had then been 
in existence sixty years, was just as you see it now. 
Ah ! how everything has changed ! " 

She shook her head; her slowly spoken words told 
the drama of her life ! Born in this building, she 
loved every one of its humid stones. She had for- 
merly been proud of it as the largest and the best 
patronized of any of the shops in the Qnartier, and 
had been compelled to see a rival establishment grow 
up under her eyes. At first she had disdained it as of 
no importance, but it had become an open wound of 
which she was slowly dying. 

Silence reigned. Baudu sat drumming on the oil 
cloth cover of the table. He felt a sense of weari- 
ness, almost of regret, at having allowed himself to 
speak as he had done. The family sat turning over in 
their minds all the bitternesses of their lives. Fortune 
had not smiled upon them. Their children were grown 
up and their business was good, when suddenly compe- 
tition ruined them. Then there was the house at Ram- 
bouillet, the old country house to which the draper for 
ten years had dreamed of retiring. He was obliged to 
repair it continually, and his tenants never paid. ^^Ws 
was his one extravagance. ^ ^^ ^ ^ 


"Come," he said suddenly, "we must leave the 
table for others. Words like these are useless." 

Every one obeyed ; the gas had made the heat of 
the room unendurable. F6p6 was sleeping so quietly 
that it seemed a pity to awaken him. and he was laid 
gently down on a bale of cloth. Jean with a yawn 
went again to the street door. 

"You must do as you choose," said Baudu to his 
niece; "we only tell you these thitigs. Your affairs 
are yoiir own, of course." 

He was evidently anxious for a decisive answer. 

Denise, who had become more than ever interested 
in the Bonheur des Dames, retained her tranquil, 
gentle air, concealing true Normandy obstinacy. She 
contented herself with saying: 

"We will see, dear Uncle." 

And she spoke of retiring early with the children, 
for they were all very much fatigued. But six o'clock 
had only just struck, and she could stay a little longer 
in the shop. She looked out into the street; it was 
dark, and a fine, drizzling rain had been falling since 
sunset. This was a surprise to her — the street was 
covered with puddles, the gutters were filled with 
dirty water, and thick, sticky mud covered the side- 
walk. When she first looked out she saw only a mass 
of umbrellas moving to and fro like great black wings. 
She drew back with a shudder, and looked around the 
shop with a feeling of terror and of wonder that the 
great city of which she had heard so much could be 

BO ugly. Digitized by CjOOgle 

But on the other side of the street the Bonheur des 


Dames shone out cheerily. Behind the mist and the 
rain the windows presented only a confused mass of 
colors, but Denise saw the great velvet mantle trimmed 
with silver fox wrapped, as it were, around a headless 
woman who was hurrying through the rain to some 
great fSte. 

Denise stood in the doorway, regardless of the drops 
that fell upon her. She could not tear herself away 
from the Bonheur des Dames. It seemed to her the 
one spot of light and life in the city. She thought of 
her future, of the work she must do to bring up the 
boys, and of many other things that troubled her. She 
suddenly remembered what had been said about the 
lady who had died, and whose blood stained the foun- 
dations of the building opposite, and she caught her 
breath in dismay. Then the gleam of the rich satins 
in the window soothed her, hope and joy re-entered 
her heart, while her face and hands were cooled by 
the fresh air and the dampness. 

" There goes Bonnat," said a voice behind her. 

She leaned a little forward, and saw the old man 
standing at the window where she in the morning had 
noticed the ingenious arrangements of canes and 
umbrellas. The old man had glided through the rain 
to fill his eyes with the triumphal display, and in his 
sorrow he did not even feel the rain that beat in his 
face and saturated his long white hair. 

" It is very stupid of him, and he will certainly take 
cold." said the voice again. 

Then quickly turning, Denise saw that she had th§ 
Baudus again behind lier. They had come in spite of 

THE "bonheur des dames/* 57 

themselves to gaze once more upon the sight that 
nearly broke their hearts. Genevidve had satisfied 
herself that Colomban was watching the shadows of 
the saleswomen, ajid wjiile Baudu was choking with 
rage, Madame Baudu listened to him with silent tears. 

** Weill do you intend to go there to-morrow?" 
asked the draper, tormented by uncertainty and yet 
convinced in his heart that his niece was conquered 
like the rest of the world. 

She hesitated, then answered gently: 

**Y«s, Uncle, unless it would distress you too much." 

Digitized by 


58 THE "bonheur des dames/ 


THE next morning at half-past seven, Denise was 
standing before the Bonheur dea Dames; she 
wished to present herself there before taking Jean to 
his patron in the upper part of the Faubourg du Tem- 
ple. But with her usual early habits she had been in 
too great haste; the clerk had hardly arrived, and, 
fearing to be laughed at, she lingered on the Place 

A cold wind had dried the pavement. From all the 
streets lighted by this gray sky she saw clerks hur- 
riedly approaching, the collars of their coats turned 
back and their hands in their pockets, surprised at this 
first shiver of winter. 

Most of them entered the shop without addressing 
word or look to their colleagues, others came by twos 
and threes, talking eagerly and all together, and every 
one of them tossed away the cigar or cigarette before 
they entered. 

Denise perceived that many of these men stared as 
they passed her. This increased her timidity, and she 
determined not to enter with them but to wait for a 
while. But, as the clerks continued to come, she 
walked away and round the square. When she came 
back she found standing in front of the Bonheur des 
Dames^ a tall, pale youth, who like hei'self seemed to 
be waiting for some one. Digitized by CjOOQIc 


*' Mademoiselle," he stammered, addressing her, "you 
are, perhaps, a saleswoman in this establishment?" 

She was so startled by hearing this stranger thus 
address her, that at first she could not reply. 

" Because," he continued, becoming more and more 
confused, " I want to see if there is any possibility of 
my procuring a situation there, and you might pos- 
sibly tell me." 

He was as diflSdent as she, but it was comparatively 
easy to speak to her, because he saw she was trembling 
as well as himself. 

" I would gladly give you any information, sir," she 
at last replied, " but I know no more than yourself^ 
and am here for the same purpose." 

" Ah ! " he answered, quite disconcerted. 

And they both blushed deeply ; they hesitated, 
neither daring to wish the other success. Then, as 
neither spoke, and the situation was becoming ex- 
tremely awkward, they walked away to some little 
distance, and each fell again into their attitude of 

The clerks were still going in. Denise caught their 
jesting words and many an oblique glance as they 
passed. Her embarrassment became so great that she 
had decided to walk on for a half hour, when the 
appearance of a young man coming rapidly toward her 
by the Rue Port Mahon, caused her to delay a moment. 
Evidently this was a person of some importance, for 
all the clerks saluted him respectfully. He was tall 
and fair, with a carefully cut beard. His eyes were 
of the color of old gold, and had the Softness of velvet"" 


He glanced at her as be crossed the Square. He 
entered the shop, while she stood motionless, seized 
by a singular emotion in which there was more dis- 
comfort than charnK 

Seized by a strange, inexplicable fear, she turned 
into the Rue Gaillon and continued to walk until 
her fear was conquered. 

This young man whom she had seen was Octave 
Mouret in person. He had not slept the previous 
night, for on leaving a soiree given by a broker, he 
had gone to supper with a friend and two actresses, 
ifnet by accident in the coulistea of a theatre. His pal- 
ietot buttoned to his chin, hid his coat and his white 
cravat. He ran hastily to his room, took a bath and 
made a toilette, and when he seated himself at his 
.desk in his office on the entresol^ his eye was as bright 
and his complexion as fresh, as if he had spent ten 
hours in his bed. His office was a large one, furnished 
in old oak, and hung with green rep. Its sole orna- 
ment was the portrait of the Madame H^douin, of 
whom the Quartier still gossipped. Octave cherished 
ft very tender recollection of her since her death, and 
was duly grateful for the fortune which she had made 
his, in marrying him. Consequently, before he exam- 
ined the letters awaiting him on his desk, he looked up 
at the portrait with the smile of a very happy man. 
Did he not always return to her presence to resume 
his work after all his adventures ? 

There was a knock at the door, and without awaiting 
a response, a young man entered. He was tall, and 
meagre, with thin lips and a pointed nose, dressed wi^ 


^great care. In his smooth locks gray hairs were 
already visible. Mouret looked up, and then going on 
with hifr work, said : 

" You have slept well, Bourdouele ? " 

" Very well, thank you," answered the young man, 
moving about the room as if entirely at home. 

Bourdouele, the son of a poor farmer in the environs 
of fiimoges, had begun life in the Bonheur des Damei 
at the same time as Mouret, when the establishment 
occupied only the corner of the Place Gaillon. Very 
intelligent, very active, it seemed as if he might easily 
supplant his comrade, who was so much less serious, 
and about whom there was so much scandal, but he 
had not the impulsive genius of this impassioned Pro* 
venial, nor his audacity, nor his victorious gi*ace. 
Therefore, with the instinct of a clever man, Bourdou*- 
cle drew back, recognizing his superior, to whom he 
was obedient from that time. When Mouret advised 
his clerks to invest their money in the House, Bour- 
douele was the first to do so, he having received an 
unexpected inheritance from an aunt. And by degrees 
after passing through all grades, salesman, clerk and 
then head clerk of the silk department, he had become 
the most valuable of the six individuals who aided 
Mouret in the government of the Bonheur des Dames. 
These six were like the Cabinet Minister, under an 
absolute monarch. Each- of these* six had his especial 
duties — but Bourdouele had the general super- 

"And you," he sai4i familiarly, "did you sleep 

well ? " Digitized by CjOOglC 

62 THE "bonheur des dames." 

When Mouret answered that he had not been in bed 
at all, Bourdoucle replied, shaking his head: 

*' You have no right to trifle with your health in 
that way." 

" And why not ? " asked the other, gayly. " I am 
at this moment much less fatigued than yourself, my 
dear fellow. Your eyes are heavy with sleep, now, and 
you stupefy yourself by way of being sensible 1 Take 
my advice, amuse yourself, it will give you new ideas !" 

This was their perpetual but amiable dispute. Bour- 
doucle professed to hate women ; he declared they 
kept him awake when he wished to sleep. He enter- 
tained the greatest contempt for them, and their ex- 
travagances, of which he had many an example in the 
Bonheur des Dames. Mouret, on the contrary, adored 
women, and was continually involved in new affairs. 

"I saw Madame Desforges, last night," he said; 
" she was charming at the ball." 

"Then it was not with her that you supped?" 
asked his companion. 

" With her ! Good Heavens ! she is a thoroughly 
respectable person. No, I supped with H^loise, the 
little actress, at the Folies. She is a strange creature, 
but very droll." 

He continued to write, Bourdoucle still moving 
about the room. He went to the window and looked 
down the Rue Neuve-Saint-Augustin, and then coming 
back, said : 

" You know they always revenge themselves." 

"Whom do you mean?" asked Mouret, who had 
lost the thread of the conversation. oigiti^edbyCjOOQle 


*' Women, of course I " 

Mouret laughed, and allowed his natural brutality 
to be seen under his air of sensual adoration. With 
a shrug of his shoulders he said he was quite ready 
to throw them in a corner like empty bags when 
they ceased to assist him in building up his fortune. 
Bourdoucle, unmoved, repeated, coldly : 

" They will revenge themselves, or one will revenge 
all the others." 

" I am not afraid I " answered Mouret, exaggerating 
his Provencal accent. " That one is not yet born, my 
dear fellow ! If she comes, you know — " 

He lifted his pen and brandished it in the air, point- 
ing it as if it were a dagger ready to pierce an invisible 
heart. Bourdoucle resumed his walk, yielding as usual 
to the superiority of Mouret, but without in the least 
comprehending the reason of his friend's success. 

A very long silence followed. Only Mouret's pen 
was heard. Then, in reply to a series of questions, 
Bourdoucle furnished the information required in ' 
regard to the opening of the winter nouveaut^s^ which 
was to take place the next Monday. 

It was an affair of great importance, in which the 
house had staked its fortunes, for the rumors in the. 
Quartier were founded on truth. Mouret had embarked 
in extensive speculations, with an impetuosity which 
had in previous days greatly disturbed Madame 
H^douin and which now, in spite of his immense suc- 
cess, often terrified those who were interested with him. 
He was blamed in whispers for going too fast and too 
far ; he was accused of Having enlarged his house JOfle 


hastily, before he could rely on a sufficient increase of 
customers, and when he was seen to hazard the entire 
capital of the establishment and pile up his counters 
with merchandise, there was a general feeling of despair. 
For this great sale he had made immense exertions. 
Once more he was to conquer or die. And he at this 
time, when everybody about him was anxious, was 
triun^hantly gay and assured of the future possession 
of millions. When Bourdoucle ventured to insinuate 
a doubt, Mouret laughed. 

** Don't be troubled, my deaf feliow. We shall not 
go to the wall, the house is too small I " 

The other was stunned at these words, and presently 
began to express his fears with no further attempt at 
concealment. The house too small I A house where- 
there were four hundred and three employes ! 

"The truth is," continued Mouret, "we shall be 
obliged to extend ourselves before eighteen months are 
over. I am thinking of the matter seriously. This' 
very night Madame Desforges promised to introduce 
me to-morrow, at her own- house, to a certain person. 
But we will talk of this later, when the plan is ripe." 

Mouret rose as he spoke, and patted the shoulder of 
his companion, who had by no means recovered his 
self possession. This terror of the prudent people 
around him, greatly amused Mouret. In one of those 
sudden ebullitions of frankness with which he occa- 
sionally surprised his familiars, he declared that he was 
in reality more of a Jew than all the Jews in the world. 
He had this from his father, whom he resembled physi- 
cally and morally, and who was a man^who^^^ 


to make every sou do double duty. If he inherited 
from his mother something of her nervous fancies, it 
had brought him good luck ; it gave him courage and 
audacity to conquer anything. 

"You know, at all. events, that we will never desert 
you," said Bourdoucle, in conclusion. 

Before these two men went down to the shop to look 
around it as usual, they had certain details to arrange. 
They examined together a small stub-book which 
Mouret had invented for the salesmen. He had 
noticed that merchandise when no longer in the first 
flush of fashion, was gotten rid of much more quickly 
if a commission on the sales was allowed to the clerks. 
On this observation he based a new commerce. He 
therefore allowed a commission on all merchandise, on 
the smallest bit of stuff, the tiniest trifle they sold. 
This change created among the clerks a struggle for 
existence, by which their enJployers benefited. 

This new idea of his developed into a principle of 
organization, of which he made constant application. 
He let passions loose, set every force at work, encour- 
aged the great to eat the little, and grew rich on this 
battle of interests. The specimen sent in of the new 
book was satisfactory. On the top and upon the stub, 
as well as on the slip to be detached, was the number 
of the salesman, and of the counter. Then on the two 
sides there were columns for the articles, the number of 
yards, and the price. The salesman signed this slip 
before sending it up to the cashier. In this way the 
supervision and control was almost absolute. It was 
only necessaiy to compare the slips held by the cashier 

66 THE "bonheur des damks." 

with the stubs in the possession of the clerks. Each 
week these last received their percentage without any 
error being possible. 

" This is an excellent idea," said Bourdoucle. " We 
shall not be robbed half as much." 

" And last night I thought of something else," con- 
tinued Mouret. "Yes, at the supper table the idea 
came to me that it would be a good idea to give to the 
clerks, at the cashier's desk, a prize for every error they 
find in these slips when they collect them. Under 
such circumstances, you may be sure that not one will 
escape their observation, they are far more likely to 
invent them." 

He began to laugh, while liis companion looked at 
him with intense admiration. This new application of 
the struggle for existence enchanted him, for he had 
a genius for administration, and he was desirous to 
reorganize the house in*' such a manner as to make 
others minister to the gratification of Lis own appetites. 

"Now then, we will go down," said Mouret. "We 
must see about our great sale. The silks arrived 
yesterday, did they not? Bouthemont ought to be on 

Bourdoucle followed him down stairs. Goods were 
received on the Neuve-Saint-Augustin. Drays dis- 
charged their merchandise into a room where they 
were weighed, and whence they slid down to the lower 
floor. Every thing went down this yawning abyss, a 
continual river of bales and boxes — silks from Lyons, 
woolens from England, linen from Holland, calicoes 
from Alsace, cambrics from Rouen. AaedM^assed, 


Mouret stopped and watched the slide; boxes were 
going rapidly down, apparently by their own volition. 
These were followed by bales, tumbling over each 
other like round stones. Mouret did not speak, but his 
eyes flashed at the sight of this incessant stream, which 
represented so many thousand francs per minute. It 
seemed to him that he had never had before so clear a 
comprehension of the great battle in which he was 
engaged. It was this enormous amount of merchan- 
dise which he proposed to throw all over Paris. 

In the gray light that came from the windows high 
up, a crowd of men were receiving these bales and 
boxes, while others in the presence of head clerks, 
opened the boxes. There was an activity like that of 
a workshop, in this cellar where pillars held up a 
vaulted roof, and walls on which there was no stain of 

" You have everything, Bouthemont ? " asked Mou- 
ret, approaching a broad shouldered young man, who 
was busy verifying the contents of a case. 

" Yes, I think everything is all right." 

As he spoke, he looked toward a low, broad counter 
on which one of the salesmen was laying the pieces of 
silk as they were taken from the case. Behind this 
were other counters, equally covered with merchandise, 
which a crowd of clerks were examining. There was 
order in the apparent confusion, and meaning in all 
this babble of voices. 

Bouthemont had a round, bright face, with a beard ol 
inky blackness and handsome chestnut eyes. Born at 
Moutpelier, a bragger and brawler, he amcmt^sd^to 

68 THE " B O N II K U II I) K S D A M K S 


nothing as a salesman, but as a buyer he had not his 
equal. He had been sent to Paris by his father, who 
had a dry goods establishment at Montpelier, and had 
positively refused to return when his father wrote that 
he must now know enough to succeed him in his busi- 
ness. After this, a spirit of rivalry arose between his 
father and himself, the first being indignant at seeing 
a mere clerk make more than he, the head of a firm, 
made in Montpelier, while the son laughed at his 
father's adherence to routine, and upset the old estab- 
lishment whenever he went home for a visit. Like the 
others, this clerk received, beside his salary of three 
thousand * francs, a percentage on his sales. And all 
Montpelier with respectful surprise told how this 
young Bouthemont had the preceding year pocketed 
more than fifteen thousand francs, and these people 
predicted to the exasperated father that this sum 
would be greatly increased. 

Bourdoucle took up one of the pieces of silk and 
examined the grain with the air of a judge. It was a 
faille^ with a blue and silver selvage ; the famous 
Paris Bonheur^ with which Mouret expected to strike 
a decisive blow. 

" It is really very good," murmured Bourdoucle. 

" And looks even better than it is," answered Bouthe- 
mont. "It is only Dumontal who can make it for us. 
Ou my last trip, when I was angry with Gaujean, he 
ivaiited to try the same thing, but he asked twenty-five 
centimes more on the yard." 

Almost every month Bouthemont went to Lyons, 
and lived at the best Hotels. He had <Jfg^ey^y(t9(j^^ 


the manufacturers great attentions, and enjoyed the 
most absolute liberty. He bought just what he pleased 
so long as each year he augmented, in a proportion 
arranged in advance, the profits of his department, 
and it was on this augmentation that he received his 
per centage. In short, his position at the Bonheur de8 
Dames^ like that of the other head clerks, his col- 
leagues, was that of a merchant with an especial class 
of goods. 

" Then it is settled," he said ; " we will mark it five 
francs sixty centimes. You know that leaves little or 
no margin." 

" Yes — five francs sixty centimes," answered Mou- 
ret, hastily. " And if I stood alone, I would sell it at 
a loss." 

Bouthemont laughed. 

"Very good," he replied; "I am satisfied. The 
sale will be doubled, and as my sole interest is to show 
large receipts, I — " 

But Bourdoucle was very grave as he stood with 
compressed lips. He received his per centage on the 
profits, and he did not wish to lower the prices. The 
only power, however, with which he was vested 
consisted in watching the marks to make sure that 
Bouthemont, in his desire to augment the sales, did 
not make the prices too low. 

He was uneasy, and he allowed this uneasiness to be 
seen by saying : " If we sell this silk at five francs 
sixty centimes, it is the same as if we were selling it 
at a loss, for our expenses upon it are considerable. 
It will be sold everywhere at seven francs.vjOOgle 



Mouret was vexed at this. He tapped with hit 
fingers nervously on the silk, and cried: 

" I am well aware of that, and that is why I propose 
to make a present of it to my customers. The truth 
is, my dear fellow, you will never understand women. 
Don't you see how they will buy up this silk?" 

♦'Unquestionably," interrupted Bourdoucle, "and. 
the more they buy the more we lose." 

"And suppose we do? It will be at the most only 
a few centimes I What we want to do, is to draw the 
attention of all the women in Paris to our establish- 
ment. We mean that they shall be so dazzled and 
carried away by what they see, that they will empty 
their pocketbooks on our counters. You can raise 
the price on other articles as high as you please, and 
after this silk they will think everything else is an 
equalh' good bargain. For example, our Cuir d'Or — 
this taffeta at seven francs fifty centimes, which sells 
everywhere at that price, they will regard as an extra- 
ardiiiary bargain. In this way we will make up for 
the loss on the Paris Bonheur. You will see — you 
will seel" 

He was becoming eloquent, 

" Can't you see what I am after? I propose that in 
one week the Paris Bonheur shall revolutionize the 
place. It is our great coup — it is this silk that will 
make our fortunes. It will be talked of all over the 
city; that blue and silver selvage will become known 
from one end of France to the other. And you will 
see what a blow it will be to the other merchants. 
The small shops will have but one winj| leftl^^^^j^ 

THE "bon;heur des dames." 71 

The clerks, who were verifying the bills of lading, 
smiled as they listened to Mouret. He liked to talk. 
Bourdoiicle, as usual, yielded. In the meantime this 
case was emptied and another was uncovered. 

*'The manufacturers are not pleased," said Bouthe- 
mont, presently. "At Lyons they are furious against 
you ; they declare that your good bargains ruin them. 
You know Gaujean has declared open war. Yes, he 
swore he would give long credits to small establish- 
ments rather than accept my prices. 

Mouret shrugged his shoulders. 

"If Gaujean is not more sensible," he said, "he 
will come to grief. Of what do these people com- 
plain ? Do we not pay them immediately, and we 
take all they offer." 

The clerks opened the second case, while Bouthe- 
mont verified the list. Another clerk at the end of 
the counter put the prices on in figures only known to 
the house. 

Mouret stood looking on for a few minutes longer, 
and then, with the air of a captain satisfied with the 
appearance of his troops, he went off, accompanied by 

The two slowly crossed the sub-cellar. Through the 
grated windows came a pale light, and in dark corners 
or narrow passages gas burned continually. It was in 
these corridors that reserve stock was stored. Mouret 
glanced at a furnace that was to be lighted Monday 
for the first time, and at the fire-engine which stood 
always ready. The kitchen and the refectories were 
on the left, toward the corner of the PJf^|?e^^^%©a[e 

72 THE "bonheur des dames." 

At the other end, of this great room they came to 
the place which sent ont all such packages as the cus- 
tomers did not themselves take away. These packages 
were all classified and arranged in compartments, each 
compartment representing a Quartier of Paris; then 
by a wide staircase which came out on the street just 
facing the shop of the Baud us, they were carried 
up and placed in wagons that stood ready near the 

"Campion," said Mouret abruptly to the head of 
this department, " why were not six pairs of sheets, 
bought yesterday by a lady about two o'clock, sent 
home in the evening?" 

" Where does this lady live ? " 

"Rue de Rivoli, corner of Rue d' Alger — Madame 

At this early hour the compartments were empty, 
and contained only a few bundles left over' from the 
previous evening. While Campion looked over these 
bundles and consulted a register, Bourdoucle looked 
at Mouret, and thought how strange it was that this 
devil of a man should find out everything, should 
think of everything, even when he was supping at a 

The chief of bureau discovered the error. The 
salesnian had made a mistake — he had given a wrong 
number and the package had come back, 

"Who was the clerk that did that?" asked Mouret. 
" Ah ! Number 10— I see." 

Then, turning to Bourdoucle, he said: "Number 10 
is Albert, I think. We will say a feW[5^.pj^(tp(J\im{e 


But before making the tour of the shop he wanted to 
ascend to the rooms on the second floor where all the 
orders from the provinces were received. Each morning 
he went there to examine the correspondence. For the 
last two 3^ears this correspondence had been regularly 
increasing, and where ten clerks were formerly em- 
ployed, thirty were now kept constantly busy. Some 
opened the letters, and others read them on opposite 
sides of the same table ; others again classified them, 
affixing to each a number which was set down in a 
book. Then, when all these letters were distributed 
through the different departments and the articles 
ordered were sent up from these departments, they 
were measured and ticketed and then packed in 
another room where men were at work with hammers 
and nails all day long. 

Mouret asked his usual question : 

"How many letters this morning, Levasseur?" 

" Five hundred and thirty-four, sir," was the reply. 

Bourdoucle nodded. He never expected that num- 
ber of letters on Tuesday. 

Around the table, the employes were busily occu- 
pied with a loud rustling of papers, while the various 
articles ordered were already being brought into the 
room. This department was one of the most con- 
siderable and the most important in the house, and 
demanded great celerity and care, for the orders 
received in the morning were invariably filled and 
sent off that evening. 

" We Avill give you more assistants when you require 
them, Levasseur," said Mouret, who at a glance had 

74 THE "bonheur des dames." 

satisfied himself that things were going well in these 
rooms. "You are well aware that when there is extra 
work we will not refuse you extra men." 

Above stairs, under the eaves, were the bed-rooms 
occupied by some of the saleswomen. 

Mouret went down and entered the principal cashier's 
office, which was near his own. This cashier's office 
was a small room closed by a glass door, through which 
could be seen an enormous iron safe built into the wall. 
To the principal cashier two cashiers in the sales-room 
paid over the receipts of the day every evening. Here 
too were all the work people and clerks paid off. This 
office communicated with another room, where the 
clerks verified all the bills. Then there was still 
another bureau where six young men at high desks 
calculated the percentage due to the salesmen and 
made out the bills. This office, which was a new one, 
had not yet begun to go smoothly. 

Mouret and Bourdoucle passed through the first two 
rooms but when they reached the last, where the 
six young men were laughing heartily, the laughter 
suddenly ceased. Then Mouret, without reproving 
them, began to explain elaborately the system of the 
little prize he had devised for each error discovered in 
the account ; and when he had gone out the employes 
stopped laughing, and applied themselves energetically 
to their work, and to their search for errors. 

Mouret went at once into the shop and to the desk 
where Albert L' Homme was polishing his nails while 
awaiting the arrival of customers. There had been a 
good deal of talk about the dynasty of Jhte^l^'^Ii^igj^^ 


" ever since Madame Aur^lie, the head woman in the 
cloak department, had obtained the position of cashier 
for her husband, and of assistant for her son — a tall, 
pale, dissipated fellow, who never remained long any- 
where, and who occasioned her the keenest anxiety." 

But at this desk Mouret paused, he did not care to 
compromise his smiling grace by playing the part of 
detective, he preferred to act the r81e of an amiable 
benefactor. Therefore he touched the elbow of his 
companion Bourdoucle, whom he generally employed 
to do those things to which he himself objected. 

" Monsieur Albert," said the latter severely, " You 
have again written a wrong address, and a package 
has been brought back. Such an error is inexcusable." 

The cashier made an attempt to defend himself and 
called the boy who had done up the package. This 
boy also belonged to the L'Homme dynasty, for he was 
Albert's foster brother, and he owed his place to the 
influence of Madame Aur^lie. As the young man 
tried to make him say that the error was due to the 
customer, he stammered and twisted his beard, divided 
between his conscience and gratitude to his protectors. 

"Let Joseph alone ! " Bourdoucle finally exclaimed, 
" and make no further attempt to defend yourself. It 
is very lucky for you that we esteem your mother and 
her services, so highly ! " 

At this moment L'Homme himself appeared. From 
his desk near the door, he perceived that something 
was wrong and hastened to the field. He was pale 
from his sedentary life, but his amputated arm was no 
hindrance to his duties. He spent his^ time (Qf^gttf^ 

igi ize y g 


money, and people went to look at him out of curiosity 
as he rapidly turned over the memoranda with his left 
hand, the only hand he now had. The son of a teacher 
in Chablis, he had come to Paris to fill the situation of 
corresponding clerk with a merchant. He married the 
daughter of his concierge^ a little Alsatian tailor, and 
from that day he had been the humble and obedient 
slave of his wife, whose business abilities struck him 
with admiration and respect. She made more than 
twelve thousand francs by her confections^ while he re- 
ceived only five thousand francs as a fixed salary. His 
deference for a woman who could bring such sums 
into, a household was extended even to her, son who 
came with her. 

" What has gone wrong ? " he asked. " Is Albert in 

Then in his usual fashion, Mouret stepped in to 
play the r81e of benefactor and prince. When Bour- 
doucle had made him feared, he himself sought for 

" It is only a mistake," he replied. " Your Albert is 
a very careless fellow, who ought to take example by 


Then changing the conversation and showing himself 
even more amiable, he said : 

"And the concert, the other day? Did you secure 
a good seat ? " 

The pale cheeks of the old cashier flushed. He had 
but one vice, music, and this secret vice he satisfied by 
going to all the theatres, concerts and rehearsals. 
Notwithstanding the loss of one arm, 1^ iB|M^(9B^tl? 


horn, and as his wife detested the noise, he wrapped a 
cloth around his instrument and went into ecstacies 
over the strange dull sounds he extorted from it. 

"An excellent seat," he answered, his eyes very 

Mouret, Avho took great delight' in gratifying the 
passions of those about him, sometimes gave to 
L'Homme the tickets that Lady Patronesses thrust 
down his throat. And he finished his adroit flattery 
by saying, as he turned away : 

"Ah! Beethoven — ^ah! Mozart. What music." 

He joined Bourdoucle, and together they entered 
the silk department. They saw nothing there as they 
made their way through the respectful clerks, that 
demanded especial attention. But in the woolen 
rooms Bourdoucle resumed his role of executioner. 
He saw a young man seated on a counter, who looked 
worn out with a sleepless night. This young man, the 
son pf a rich merchant in Anglers, bowed- his head 
beneath the reproof, as he had but one fear, that of 
being called home by his father and of having his life 
of indolence and pleasure abruptly ended. 

After this, much fault was found. In one depart- 
ment it was discovered that its head, who slept in 
the building, had not come in till after midnight, and 
in another the head clerk was caught finishing a cigar- 
ette. At the glove counter, the storm burst forth upon 
the head of one of the few Parisians in the house. 
Mignol's crime was that he had made a scandal in the 
refectory by complaining of the food. As there were 
three tables, one at half past nine, the otheiL^alC^iK 

78 THE "bonheur des dames." 

past ten, and the other at half past eleven, h6 had to 
explain that being always at the third table, he was 
invariably served with warmed over portions. 

" The food then is not good ? " asked Mouret finally, 
in a pleasant tone. 

He allowed one franc, fifty centimes daily to his 
chef^ a terrible Auvergnat, who nevertheless contrived 
to fill his pockets, and the food was really execrable. 
But Bourdoucle shrugged his shoulders — a chef who 
had over four hundred breakfasts and over four hun- 
dred dinners to serve, could not be expected to attend 
to the refinements of his profession. 

" Never mind," said Mouret, kindly, " I wish all my 
employes to have healthy and abundant food. I will 
speak to the chef about it." 

And Mignol's complaint was forever shelved. By 
this time they had reached the door and stood among 
the umbrellas and cravats. There they received the 
report of one of the four inspectors of the shop. 
Jouve, a retired captain, decorated at Constantine, 
who was still a fine looking man with a large sensual 
nose, pointed out a salesman who on a simple remon- 
strance from him had called him an old fool, whereupon 
the salesman was immediately dismissed. 

The shop was still empty ; a few early housekeepers 
were wandering about, but that was all. At the door, 
the inspector, who mounted guard over the arrival of 
the clerks, had finished setting down the names of 
those who were tardy. The salesmen were all behind 
their counters, every thing had been swept and dusted 
Some of these men exchanged a cordial greeting, w^iile 


when Huten, yielding to his natural gallantry and in 
the most amiabk manner, came forward : 

"No, Mademoiselle, this way." 

He even went as far as the foot of the staircase with 
her. Then he smiled upon her tenderly as he smiled 
on all women. 

" Turn to the left in the room above — ^the cloaks and 
mantles are then in front of you." 

This politeness and his caressing manner moved 
Denise profoundly. It was as if a -brother had 
extended a helping hand. Her heart swelled with 
gratitude, and she gave her friendship in the few 
disconnected words she faltered forth: 

*' You are too good — don't disturb yourself." 

Huten went back to Favier, to whom he said, in a 
low voice: 

" She is a simpleton ! " 

The young girl ascended the stairs and found her- 
self in a large room around which were wardrobes of 
carved oak. The windows of this room looked out on 
the Rue de la Michodidre. Five or six women, quite 
coquettish with their well dressed heads and silk skirts 
drawn back, were talking very fast, all together. One 
of them, who was tall and thin, with a long head like 
that of a horse, was leaning against a wardrobe as if 
already quite worn out. 

" Madame Aur^lie ? " repeated Denise. 

The saleswoman looked at her without replying 
and with an air of disdain for her poor apparel, then 
turning to one of her companions, a little creature, 
fair but with a bad complexion, said: Digitized by CjOOgle 


"Do you happen to know, Mademoiselle Marguerite, 
where the forewoman is ? " 

The girl, who was busy arranging some fur lined 
circulars, did not even take the trouble to lift her head 
as she murmured : 

" No, Mademoiselle Clara ; I haven't the least idea." 

A silence followed. Denise did not move, and no 
one took an}' notice of her. After waiting for some 
minutes, Denise ventured to ask another question: 

*'Do you think Madame Aur61ie will come back 
soon ? " 

Then the assistant forewoman, an ugly woman whom 
she had not seen before, a widow with a long protru- 
ding jaw, called out from a wardrobe where she was 
verifying some tickets: '*You can wait, if you wish 
to see Madame Aur^lie in person." 

Then, addressing Marguerite, she added: 

" Don't you know where she is ? " 

"No, Madame Frederic, I do not," answered the 
girl. "She said nothing, so I suppose she will be 
back in a moment." 

Denise still stood. There were chairs of course for 
the customers, but as no one told her to be seated, she 
did not dare take one in spite of her fatigue. 

These young ladies had evidently decided that she 
had come for the vacant situation as saleswoman, 
and examined her out of the corners of their eyes. 
They showed her no kindness, but treated her with 
something of the silent hostility of people who, sitting 
at table, do not like to be crowded by those who come 
in hungry from without. Digitized by vjOOglC 


Her embarrassment increased. She crossed the room 
and went to a window where she could look into the 
street. Opposite was her uncle's shop, with its rusty 
front and its wretched windows. It looked so ugly, so 
forlorn to her, seen thus from amid the luxury of the 
Bonheur des J}ameB, that a certain feeling of remorse 
tugged at her heart. 

" Say," whispered Clara to Marguerite, "did you see 
Her boots?" 

"And her dress?" murmured the other. 

Denise, although she could not hear these words, 
was well aware that she was being criticised, but she 
was not angry. . She did not think these women hand- 
some, either the tall Clara with her brown hair falling 
over her neck nor little Marguerite with her milk 
white face. Clara Prundame had been employed as a 
seamstress at the Ch&teau de Manuel, but there canie 
to grief and was sent away in disgrace. She finally 
made her way to Paris and to tYxQ Bonheur des Darned. 
Marguerite Vachon was born in Grenoble, where her 
family were linen merchants. She had been sent away 
from home for misconduct, but if she behaved well 
she was to return and manage her father's shop, as 
well as marry a. cousin who was waiting for her. 

" At all events," said Clara aloud, " I doubt if this 
girl gives us much trouble if she comes here ! " 

There wa3 no time for any one to reply, for a woman 
of about forty-five entered the room. It was Madame 
Aur^lie, her ample form buttoned into a tight black 
silk tbatglittered like a suit of chain mail. Under her 
bands of smooth dark hair wei:^ lai;ge st^iM^y ey^ 



severely compressed lips, and large and somewhat 
pendent cheeks. Her position as forewoman imparted 
to her great majesty of countenance, that reminded 
one of a plaster cast of Csesar. 

" Mademoiselle Marguerite," she said in an irritated 
voice, "you did not send back to the work room 
that pattern mantle yesterday." 

"It was Madame Frederic who kept it, Madame," 
answered the saleswoman. 

Then Madame Frederic took the mantle from a 
wardrobe and there was much talk about it. Every- 
body bowed before Madame Aur61ie whenever she 
thought it necessary to defend her authority ; she was 
vain to that degree, that she would not be called 
by her name of L'Homme, and always spoke of her 
father's establishment as if he had been a fashionable 
tailor, and was only kind to these young girls when 
they bowed down in admiration before her. Formerly 
in the rooms where she had attempted to carry on her 
business on her own account, she had been ill tempered 
and irritable ; she felt within herself a capability to 
make her own way, and was angry that she was held 
back by lack of means ; and now after her success at 
the Bonheur des Dames where she received a salary of 
twelve thousand francs per annum, she seemed still to 
feel a spite against the whole world, and an especial 
spite toward beginners, because life had been so hard 
for her. 

" That will do 1 " she said coldly, " You are no more 
to be trusted than the others, Madame Frederic. Let 
this be attended to at once." ^ 9' ^^^^ ^^ C^OOgle 


During this discussion, Denise had ceased to look 
down upon the street. She felt quite sure that this 
new comer was Madame Aur^lie, but she was disturbed 
by the tone of her voice and stood uncertain what to 
do. The saleswomen, enchanted at this semi-quarrel 
between the forewoman and her assistants, went off to 
their duties with an air of profound indifference. Some 
minutes elapsed, no one had the charity to aid the 
young stranger in her embarrassment, and finally it 
was Madame Aur^lie who perceived her, and astonish- 
ed at her presence, asked what she wanted. 

" I am waiting for Madame Aur^lie." 

" I am Madame Aur^lie." 

The girl's lips were parched, and her hands cold. 
She felt as she did when a child, and afraid of being 

She stammered out her request and was forced to 
repeat it to make it intelligible. 

Madame Aur^lie looked at her without the slightest 
softening of her imperial mask. 

" How old are you ? '' 

"Twenty, Madame." 

" Twenty 1 You do not look more than sixteen 1 " 

The saleswomen had lifted their heads to hear this 
cross examination. Denise hastened to add : 

" Oh ! I am very strong ! " 

Madame Aur^lie shrugged her broad shoulders. 
Then she said coldly : 

" Very good, I will take down your name, as we do 
those of all who present themselves. Mademoiselle 
Marguerite, give me the Register 1 " Digitized by C^OOgle 

88 THE "bonheur des dames." 

The Register could not be found, it must be in the 
hands of the inspector. As Marguerite went to look 
for her, Mouret arrived, still followed bj Bourdoucle. 
Tliey had made the tour of the entire shop, had been 
at the lace counter, among the shawls. And the furs and 
the lingerie, and ended in this department. Madame 
Anr^lie drew them aside and talked with them in 
regard to an order that she wanted to give to a Paris 
house for paletots ; generally she bought on her own 
responsibility, but, when a purchase was especially 
heavy she preferred to consult the heads of the house. 
Bourdoucle then told her of the reproof he had 
been compelled to give her son Albert for his negli- 
gence. She was in despair, that boy would kill her, 
she said, the father though not clever, had the best in- 
tentions in the world and was honesty itself. The 
entire L'Homme dynasty of which she was the head, 
gave her a great deal of uneasiness. In the meantime 
Mouret, surprised to find Denise in this room, asked 
Madame Aur^lie what she was doing there : and when 
the reply came that the girl had applied for the sit- 
uation of saleswoman, Bourdoucle with his contempt 
for women looked utterly confounded at her pretension. 

"It is a joke," he said, '*she is too ugly 1" 

"She certainly has no beauty," said Moui*et, not 
daring to defend her, although still touched by her 
ecstasy, before his handiwork. 

But the Register appeared, and Madame Aureli^ 
turned toward Denise again. The girl had not made a 
favorable impression on the august forewoman. She 
was exquisitely neat in her scanty robe of black de ^ 


laine, and of course, its poverty was no drawback, as 
the regulation robe, the uniform of black silk was 
always provided, but her face was sad and she was 
thin. Without insisting that the saleswomen should be 
beautiful, it was nevertheless desirable that they should 
be pleasing. And under the examination of these 
women and these men, who looked at her from head to 
foot, as if she had been a mare at a horse fair, Denise 
lost what remained to her of her self-possession. 

*^Your name?" asked the forewoman, holding her 
pen above the page. 

** Your age?" 

** Twenty, and four months." 

And she repeated, looking toward Mouret, whom 
she had met so often, and whom she still supposed to 
be only one of the head clerks. 

*^ I may not look so, but I am strong I " 

There was a general smile. Bourdoucle examined 
his nails vfiih impatience. The girl's words were 
followed by a discouraging silence. 

^*Iq what House have you been in Paris?" a^ed 
the forewoman. 

" I have just come from Valognes, Madame." 

This was a new disaster. Generally, the BonKeur 
des Barnes exacted from its sfdeswomen a year's ser- 
vice in one of the smaller establishments of the city. 
Denise thought all was lost, and but for the children 
and but for the necessity of working for them, she 
would have gone away at once, and thus ended this 
series of useless questions. 

" Where were you at ValogMS ? " °'9' '^^^ by (^oogle 


" With CornaiUe." 

" I know him — an excellent establishment," said 

As a rule, he never interfered in this matter of 
engaging the employes; the heads of the various 
departments had the responsibility of engaging those 
under them. But with his quick intuition where 
women were concerned, he felt that in this girl was 
hidden a wealth of grace and beauty of which she was 
herself ignorant. The good reputation of the House 
where Denise had been employed was of great 
weight, and Madame Aureli^ continued with more 
suavity : 

" And why did you leave CornaiUe ? " 

" For family reasons," answered Denise, with a blush. 
"We have lost our parents, and I wanted to be with 
my brothers. I have a reference from my employer." 

It was an excellent recommendation, and Denise 
began to feel quite sanguine, when another question 

"Have you any other references in Paris? Where 
are you living ? " 

" With my uncle," she murmured, hesitating to give 
the name, fearing that the niece of the enemy of the 
Bonheur des Dames would not be received. " With 
my Uncle Baudu, opposite." 

Again did Mouret interfere. 

" Do you mean," he asked hastily, " that you are 
Baudu's niece ? Did Baudu send you here ? " 

" Oh ! no sir." _ 

And she could not prevent herself from laughing at 


this singular idea. She was perfectly transfigured. A 
lovely color rose to her cheeks, and her smile was as 
if her whole face had suddenly burst into flower. 
Her gray eyes took a tender light — dimples went and 
came, even her light hair looked brighter from her 

"She is pretty!" said Mouret, in a whisper, to 
Bourdoucle, who, however, shook his head, refusing to 
admit it. Clara shut her mouth closely and Mar- 
guerite turned her back. 

Madame Aureli^ alone seemed pleased, and gave 
Mouret a little nod, who then said: "Your uncle 
should have brought you here himself; his recommen- 
dation would have been quite enough. If he cannot 
employ his niece in his own establishment we will 
show him that his niece has but to apply to us to 
be received. Tell him that I like him very much, and 
that he ought to submit, not to me, but to the new 
conditions of commerce. And tell him that he will 
• certainly come to grief if he is so obstinate." 

Denise turned very pale. It was Mouret, then. No 
one had told her his name, but he had himself given 
her to understand who he was, and she now saw why 
this young man had caused her such emotion each time 
she met him, and even now her heart was heavy with 
it. All the stories told by her uncle returned to her 
memory, surrounding him with a mystery and an inter- 
est. Behind his handsome head, with the carefully 
trimmed beard, and the eyes the color of old gold, she 
saw the dead woman — that Madame H^douin, whose 
blood had stained the stones of the House, ized by C^OOgle 


Then she felt a cold shiver run over lier from head 
to foot ; she fancied that it was fear of him. 

Madame Aur^lie in the meantime had closed the 
register. She needed only one saleswoman and there 
were ten names on the list. 

But she was too desirous to make herself agreeable 
to Mouret to hesitate. The application followed its 
usual course — ^the inspector would inquire into the 
references, would make his report, and the forewoman 
would then decide. 

"Very well, Mademoiselle," she said, majestically; 
"you will receive a letter." 

The embarrassment still continued. Denise did not 
move. She did not know which foot to use or how to 
start. Finally, she thanked Madame Aur41ie, and as 
she passed Mouret and Bourdoucle, she bowed to them. 
They, however, no longer troubled themselves about 
her, and did not even see her salutation, for they were 
absorbed in examining with Madame Fr^eric the 
model of the mantle. Clara shrugged her shoulders 
with an air of vexation, and looked at Marguerite as 
•much as to say that the new saleswoman would not 
have a very easy time in her department. 

Denise felt instinctively this indifference and jeal- 
ousy, for she descended the stairs with the same feeling 
of despair and anguish with which she had ascended 
them. She asked herself if she could count on the 
place. She could not form any clear idea, for her 
embarrassment had be^n so great that she bad been 
unable to judge. Two impressions began to stand out 
dearly — one was the fear she £eU of Mouret, til^e.otip#r 


was that of Huten's great amiability, the only pleasant 
occurrence of the day. When she crossed the shop to 
go out, she looked for the young man that she might 
thank hira with her eyes, and was sorry not to see him. 

" Well, Mademoiselle, have you succeeded ? " said a 
voice in her ear as she reached the sidewalk. 

She turned and recognized the tall, pale fellow who 
had spoken to her that morning. He, too, had come 
out of the Bonheur de% Dames^ and seemed even more 
disturbed and bewildered than herself by the examina* 
tion he had undergone. 

"I don't know, sir," was her reply. 

*' That is the same way with me. They look at one so 
queerly in there 'and speak to one in such a way ! I 
wanted to get into the lace department. I have been 
with Creve-Coeur, Rue du Mail." 

They stood facing each other for a moment, and not 
knowing just how to separate, they began to blush. 
Then the young man, in order to say something, asked 
in an awkward sort of way: 

" What is your name. Mademoiselle ? " 

« Denise Baudu." 

*' And mine is Henri Deloche." 

They smiled, and yielding to the similarity of their 
positions they simultaneously extended the hand. 

" Good luck to you ! " 

^' And the same to you ! " 

Digitized by 


94 THE "bonhjeur des dames. 



MADAME DESFORGES offered a cup of tea and 
little cakes every Saturday evening, from four to 
six, to such of her friends as chose to call upon her. 
Her apartment was on the third floor at the corner of 
the Rue de Rivoli and Rue d' Alger, and the windows 
of the salon overlooked the garden of the Tuileries. 

On this Saturday, just as a servant was about to 
show him into the drawing-room, Mouret perceived 
from the ante-room through an open door, Madame 
Desforges crossing a smaller room. She stopped when 
she saw him, and Mouret joined her there, saluting her 
with an air of ceremony. But as soon as the servant 
closed the door he snatched the lady's hand and 
pressed it tenderly to his lips. 

"Take care, people are there!" she said in a low 
voice, with a glance toward the salon. " I went to 
iBind this fan which they wished to see.'* 

And with the end of the fan she^gave him a little 
tap on the cheek. She was dark, somewhat large, with 
big, jealous eyes. 

He had not released her hand, and he said : 

"Will he come?" 

" Unquestionably — ^he gave me his promise." 

They were speaking of Baron Hartmann, Director of 
the Credit Immobilier. Madame Desforg^^^^i^ll^d 


daughter of a Councillor of State, and the widow of a 
" man on 'Change " who had left her a fortune, a for- 
tune which was exaggerated by some and denied by 
others. It was said that she had been too kind to 
Baron Hartmann, whose wise counsel as a financier 
had been of great use in the household, and later, after 
the death of her husband, this liaison still continued ; 
but it was with the utmost discretion, never with the 
smallest Sclat or imprudence. Madame Desforges was 
always received in the best circles to which her birth 
entitled her. And in these later days, when the Bank- 
er's passion had merged into a paternal affection, and 
she permitted herself to have lovers whom he tolerated, 
she carried into all her affairs such exquisite tact and 
such a thorough knowledge of the world, that appear- 
ances were saved, and no one dared to breathe aloud a 
doubt upon her propriety of conduct. Having met 
Mouret at the house of one of their common acquaint- 
ances, she had at first taken a great dislike to him, 
then yielded to the passionate love with which he 
attacked her, and by degrees had come to feel for 
him a true and deep tenderness. She adored him with 
the violence of a woman of thirty-five, though she 
acknowledged but twenty -nine ; she was in despair at 
seeing her youth slipping away from her, and trembled 
at the thought of losing him. 

" Does he know what is wanted ? " Mouret asked. 

"No; you will explain the matter yourself," she 
answered, with some little coldness. 

She looked at him a moment, and wondered if it 
were possible that he could know the truth and yet 


make use of her with the Baron. He pretended to 
think him merely as one of her old friends. But he 
held her hand closely, he called her his Heniiette, and 
her heart melted. Silently she lifted her face and 
received his kiss on her lips ; then in a whisper she 

" Hush I they are waiting for me. Come in behind 

Voices came from the grand salon^ but they were 
deadened by the hangings over the door. .She entered, 
drawing the portiere aside, and handed the fan to one 
of four ladies who were seated in the centre of the 

** This is it," she said. " I was obliged to look for it 
myself, for my maid could never have found it." 

Then turning, she added, in her usual gay voice : 

" Come in, Monsieur Mouret. Come in through the 
small salon^ it won't be so solemn." 

Mouret saluted these ladies, whom he knew. The 
salon^ with its Louis XVI. furniture, covered with 
flowered brocatelle, had a certain quiet, comfortable 
air in spite of the height of its ceilings ; and from the 
two windows the chestnut trees in the Tuileries were 
seen blowing in the October wind. 

" Upon my word, this Chantilly is not bad I " cried 
Madame Bourdelais, who held the fan. 

She was a little blonde, about thirty, with bright 
eyes and a delicate nose. She had been a friend of 
Henriette's at school, and had married a sxxh-chef to 
the Minister of Finance. A member of an old Bour- 
geoise family, she managed her home and her three 


children with activity and grace; also with a clear 
perception of the practical side of life. 

"And you paid twenty-five francs for this bit of 
lace ? " she began, after examining every stitch of the 
lace. " Did you say you got it at Lucca, from a work- 
woman? No, it is not dear. But of course you had it 

"Of course," answered Madame Desforges. "The 
mounting cost two hundred francs." 

Madame Bourdelais laughed. 

This was what Henriette called a bargain. Two 
hundred francs for a simple ivory mounting, with a 
cipher. And in all this she had saved one dollar. At 
two hundred and twenty francs the same fans, all 
mounted, could be bought at a certain establishment 
in the Rue PoissonniSre. 

In the meantime, the fan made the rounds of all the 
ladies. Madame Guibal scarcely vouchsafed a glance. 
She was tall and very thin, with brown hair and an air 
of listless indifference. Her gray eyes at times, how- 
ever, told a different story. She was never seen with 
her husband, who was a lawyer, well known at the 
Palais, and who, it was said, led an entirely independent 
life, always absorbed in his business and his pleasures. 

"Yes," she murmured, as she handed the fan to 
Madame de Boves, " I never bought but two in the 
whole course of my life. One has so many given to 
one, you know." 

The Countess replied, with delightful wickedness; 

" You are very fortunate, my dear, but we are not 
all of us so lucky in having such gallant hu^jm^Vp 

98 THE "bonheur dks damrs." 

And leaning toward her daughter, a tall young 
woman of some twenty years, she said : 

"Examine the cipher, Blanche; did you ever see 
more exquisite work ?, It is the cipher that made the 
price so high." 

Madame de Boves was over forty. She was a mag- 
nificent woman, with the port of a goddess, regular 
features and large, sleepy eyes, whom her husband, 
an Inspector General, had married for her beauty. 
She seemed much interested in the delicacy of the 
cipher, and then suddenly looking up, she said quickly : 

"Give us your opinion. Monsieur Mouret. Is two 
hundred francs dear for this mounting ? " 

Mouret had been standing in front of this group of 
women, smilin'g as he watohed their animated discus- 
sion. He took the fan and examined it ; he was about 
to speak, when the servant announced : 

" Madame Marly." 

A woman entered : she was thin and plain, marked 
by the smallpox, and dressed with the most exquisite 
taste. She had no particular age, her thirty-five years 
might be thirty or forty, according to her mood. A 
small bag of scarlet leather hung from her right hand. 

"Dear Madame," she said to Henriette, "you will 
excuse me and my bag. On my way here I was 
tempted to enter the Bonheur, and as I was guilty 
of some extravagance there, I did not dare to leave 
my bag in the fiacre at your door for fear of being 

At this moment she perceived Mouret, and began 


" Upon my word," she said, " I did not know you 
were here; but you certainly have some wonderful 
laces at your place." 

The appearance of this lady on the scene, diverted 
attention from the fan, which Mouret quietly laid on 
a table. And now there was a general curiosity to 
see what Madame Marly had bought. Every one 
knew her extravagance, and that she could never 
resist temptation if it pres^ted itself in the form of 
dress, while a lover never moved her. She was the 
daughter of a clerk, and was ruining her husband, a 
Professor in the Lyc^e Bonaparte, who was obliged 
to double his salary of six thousand francs in a 
thousand ways in order to provide for the constantly 
increasing expenses of his establishment. 

But she did not open her bag; she held it on her 
knee while she talked of her daughter Valentine, then 
about fourteen, whom she dressed as extravagantly as 
she did herself, giving her all the novelties which she 
so greatly adored. 

'*You know," she explained, "that this winter 
young girls wear dresses trimmed with narrow lace ; 
consequently, when I saw a pretty Valenciennes — " 

And she began to open the bag. The ladies watched 
her movements with eager curiosity. The silence was 
absolute, when suddenly the bell was heard. 

"It is my husband," said Madame Marly, nervously. 
" He has come to meet me here on leaving the Lyc^e 

She closed her bag and thrust it under her chair 
with an instinctive- movement. All th^i^fedies began 



to laugh. Then she colored at her precipitate move- 
ment and replaced the bag on her knees, saying that 
men never understood, and that it was not necessary 
they should know. 

"Monsieur de Boves, Monsieur de Vallegnose," 
announced the valet. 

This was an astonishment. Madame de Boves did 
not expect her husband, who, a very handsome man 
with a moustache and air imperial, entered with the 
military air so approved oi at the Tuileries, and kissed 
the hand of Madame Desforges, whom he had known 
when a child. 

And then he stepped a little aside, in order that his 
companion, a tall, pale yoUth, might in his turn pay his 
respects to the mistress of the house. But hardly had 
the conversation opened, than two exclamations were 
heard : 

"What! Is it you, Paul?." 

"Hallo! Octave!" 

Mouret and Vallegnose shook hands warmly. Mad- 
ame Desforges was, in her turn, surprised. They knew 
each other then? Certainly, they had grown up to- 
gether at school at Plassans, and the odd thing was 
that they had never met before at her house. 

The two men walked into the small salon just as "the 
servant brought in tea, a china service on a silver tray, 
which he placed near Madame Desforges, on a small 

The ladies gathered around the table, talking and 
laughing together, while Monsieur Boves, standing 
behind them, said an occasional word with the gallante 


courtesy of a gentleman of the old school. The 
large room, bright with its tasteful furniture, became 
gayer still with these women's voices and their pearly 

"Ah! Paul," said Mouret," seating himself on a 
sofa next to Vallegnose. They were alone in the small 
aalon — a boudoir hung with silk bouton cTor in tint. 
They had forgotten these ladies, whose voices came to 
them through the open door, and they yielded to the 
charm of their old friendshfp and their mutual recol- 
lections of their school days at Plassans. They talked 
of the two courtyards, the damp school-room, and the 
refectory, where they ate such indifferent meals with 
such wonderful appetites, and of the dormitory, where 
pillows flew about as soon as the usher snored. Paul was 
of an old Parliamentary family — ^the petite noblesse — 
a family that was ruined and poor. He was always 
first in his classes and invariably set a good example to 
the other scholars. The professors predicted for him a 
brilliant future, while Octave, always at the foot of his 
class, was jolly, happy and indifferent. In spite of the 
radical differences in their natures, they had become 
almost inseparable, until they were graduated — one 
with glory and the other by the skin of his teeth. 

After this the two friends separated, to meet again 
at the end of ten years, greatly changed and much 

"Well," asked Mouret, "what have you done?" 

" Nothing ! " 

Vallegnose, in spite of the joy he felt in meeting his 
old friend, had not thrown aside his ai):g9|y(g^^Bfgs, 


and when Mouret, somewhat astonished, repeated his 
question and said : 

" But you must be doing something." 

" No, I am not. I am doing notliing." 

Mouret laughed ; but little by little he succeeded in 
making Paul tell his story — ^the ordinary one of youth, 
without fortune, who consider themselves bound by" 
their birth to remain in the rank of professional men, 
and who exist in a state of mediocrity, content when 
they are not starving, to know that their diplomas are 
safe in their drawers. He had, according to the tradi- 
tions of his family, studied law, and then he lived at 
the expense of his widowed mother, who had two 
daughters to settle in life. At last he had become 
ashamed, and leaving the three women to struggle by 
themselves, had found a position under the Minister 
of the Interior, where he was buried like a mole in 
its hole. 

" And what do you receive there ? " asked Mouret. 

" Three thousand francs." 

"What a shame! Ah! old fellow, I am sorry for 
you. And they only give you three thousand francs, 
after already using up five years of your life ! It is 
outrageous ! " 

He interrupted himself. 

" You know what I have become ? " he asked. 

" Yes," answered Vallegnose. " I am told you are 
in trade. You have that great establishment in the 
Place Gaillon, have you not ? " 

" Yes, precisely. Dry goods, old fellow." 

And Mouret gave his friend a cordial tap^nJihe^ 


knee and repeated, with the gayety of^a man who feels 
not the smallest shame at the thought of the trade by 
which he has grown rich : 

'i Dry goods, I say ! When I took my degree to 
please my family, I might have become a lawyer or a 
physician like my comrades ; but I was afraid to try it, 
for I knew so many that had starved in those profes- 
sions. Then I made up my mind to do something 
better and to go into business." 

Vallegnose smiled in an embarrassed sort of way. 
He finally said : 

" I don't believe your degree is of much use to you 
in selling linen ? " 

"All I ask is, that it doesn't interfere with me." 
Then seeing that his friend seemed to suffer, he laid 
his hand on his shoulder and continued : " Come now, 
I don't wish to say anything unkind, but admit that 
your diplomas have not satisfied all your needs. Do 
you know that my head clerk in the silk department 
will receive over twelve thousand francs this year? 
He is a fellow of ordinary intelligence, who has learned 
orthography and the four rules of arithmetic. My 
ordinary salesmen receive three and four thousand 
francs, and they have never been at any expense for 
education. They did not enter the world with a 
promise signed and delivered that they should con- 
quer it. I know, of course, that to make money is 
not everything. Only between the poor devils who 
crowd the liberal professions and starve, and practi- 
cal fellows armed for the battle of life, I could not 
hesitate. I am for the latter, against i4hie^-femer." 


He was becoming eloquent. Henriette heard his 
voice raised to a higher tone than usual, and turned 
her head. When he saw her smile across the salon and 
perceived that the attention of the ladies had been 
aroused, he laughed and repeated what he had said. 

" I tell you, my dear fellow, many a millionaire is 
to-day hidden under the skin of dealers in dry goods." 

Vallegnose had thrown himself back among the 
cushions. He had half closed his eyes in fatigue and 
disdain, partially affected and partly sincere. 

" Pshaw ! " he murmured, " life is not worth so much 
trouble; there is nothing amusing in it." 

And as Mouret looked at him with profound surprise, 
he added : 

^ Every thing happens and nothing happens; it is 
just as well to sit with your arras folded." These 
words told his pessimism, the mediocrities and the dis- 
appointments of his life. At one time he had thought 
of literature, and from his association with the poets 
had gained a universal hopelessness. He believed 
that all exertion was useless, that life was dull and 
empty, and that the whole world was utterly stupid. 
He did not even find an unhealthy pleasure in doing 

" Tell me, do you amuse yourself ? " he said in 

Mouret had become indignant. He exclaimed : 

" Amuse myself ! Do you ask if I amuse myself? 
Of course I do, even when things go wrong, because I 
find amusement in the interest I feel. I do not take 
life tranquilly, I know." Digitized by C^OOgle 


He glanced toward the salon and added in a lower 
voice : 

*' I find some women stupid, I confess, but others 
are charming. And then there is something else 
besides women. It is delightful, if you have an idea, 
to hammer it into the heads of people and see it 
grow and develop. Ah! yes, my dear fellow, I am 
amused ! " 

All the pleasure of living, all the gayety of existence 
were in these words. He went on to say that in these 
times it was utter folly to refuse to work; and he 
laughed at the thousand isms of the day, the weakness 
of our new born sciences, at the sentimental words of 
the poets, and the airs of the skeptics. A pretty r61e 
and an intelligent one was it not, to yawn with ennui 
before the labors of others. 

"But this is my only pleasure," said Vallegnose< 
with his cold smile. 

All at once Mouret's passion fell. He became once 
more affectionate. 

" Ah ! Paul, you are still the same, still paradoxical. 
But we have not found each other only to quarrel. 
Everybody has, fortunately, his own ideas in this world. 
But you must come and see me and my work. And 
now tell me, are your mother and sisters well ? And 
was not there some talk at Plassans about your 
marrying, six months ago?" 

A sudden movement of Paul's checked his friend, 
and as the eyes of the former were riveted on the 
salon^ Mouret turned and noticed that Mademoiselle de 
Boves was watching them. Digitized by C^OOgle 


Blanche was tall and large like her mother, but in the 
young girl the same features were heavy and coarse. 

Paul, in reply to a discreet question, answered that 
nothing was decided as yet, perhaps never Avould be. 
He had met the yoiing lady here at the house of 
Madame Desforges, where he had come a good deal the 
previous winter, but where he now came but rarely. 
This fact explained why he had never met Octave. 
The Boves received him very cordially, and he liked 
the father especially, a most amiable man. But there 
was no fortune. Madame de Boves had brought her 
husband nothing but her Juno like beauty; the family 
managed to live, though their estate was heavily mort- 
gaged, on the salary received by the Count as inspec- 
tor; and these ladies, the mother and daughter, had so 
little money that they were often obliged to make 
their own dresses. 

"Why then — ?" began Mouret. 

" You may well ask," answered Vallegnose, with a 
weary fall of the eyelids, '^ but there is an aunt, and 
no one can tell what she may do." 

Meanwhile Mouret, who was watching Monsieur de 
Boves, who sat near Madame Guibal, and showered 
attentions upon her, turned toward his friend with a 
significant wink. 

"No ! she is not the one, not yet at least. Unfortu- 
nately his duties call him perpetually to the four 
corners of France, and he has therefore a thousand 
excuses for his disappearances. Last month, when 
his wife thought him at Perpegran, he was living at an 
Hotel with a music teacher, in a retired quartitr, " , 

Digitized by Google 


There was a long silence which the young man 
broke. He had been watching the gallantries of the 
Count toward Madame Guibal. 

" I don't know but you are right after all. The lady 
is not of too rigid virtue, at least that is what is said 
of her. But just watch him a moment. He is the 
impersonation of old France. I adore that man, and 
if I marry liis daughter it is for his sake ! " 

Mouret laughed, he was greatly amused. He ques- 
tioned Vallegnose, and when he heard that the first 
idea of the marriage between Blanche and Paul came 
from Madame Desforges, he was still more interested. 
This good Henriette took immense pleasure in match- 
making, and when she had provided for the girls, 
she allowed the fathers to choose their friends in her 
circle ; but all she did was so quietly done that there 
was not the smallest ground for scandal. -And Mouret, 
who loved her as men love who are busy and active, 
forgot his usual tenderness, and felt for her a spirit of 

- At this moment she appeared in the doorway of the 
small salon. She was followed by an elderly man of 
about sixty, who had entered the drawing-room unno- 
ticed by Mouret or Vallegnose. The ladies occasion- 
ally raised their voices somewhat shrilly to an accom- 
paniment of rattling tea-cups and silver, and once in 
a while came the sound of a saucer placed with too 
much force on the marble table. Through the window 
came the level rays of the setting sun gilding the sum- 
mits of the chestnut trees in the garden, and lighting 
up the red damask and brasses in the saZoJ^edbyCjOOQle 


"This way, dear Baron," said Madame Desforges. 
"I wish to present Monsieur Octave Mouret, who has 
a warm desire to testify his great admiration for you." 

And, turning toward Octave, she added : 

" The Baron Hartmann ! " 

A faint smile was on the lips of the old man. Ho 
was small and vigorous in his appearance, with a large 
head and heavy features, which lighted up as he spoke. 
For' the past fortnight he had resisted Henriette's 
wishes when she urged this interview; not because he 
was in the least jealous — ^for he had become resigned 
to his paternal rSle ; but because this was the third 
friend whom Henriette had introduced to him, and 
he was afraid of being made ridiculous. 

When, therefore, he met Octave he had the discreet 
air of a man, who, if willing to be agreeable and oblig- 
ing, does not* choose to be considered a dupe. 

" Oh ! sir," said Mouret, with his Southern enthu- 
siasm, "the last operation of the Credit Immobilier 
was simply amazing. I cannot tell you how happy 
•and proud I am to take you by the hand ! " 

" You are too kind, sir, too kind I " the Baron replied, 
still with a smile. 

Henriette looked on with her bright eyes, in which 
was no tinge of embarrassment. She stood between 
the two, turning toward one and then toward the 
other; and in her silks and laces, which left her deli- 
cate throat and wrists uncovered, she looked very 
pretty, and delighted at seeing the harmony of her 
two friends. 

" I will leave you to talk together a ^^^i}|j,'' she said, 


and then turning to Paul, she asked if he would not 
take a cup of tea. 

" Most gladly, Madame," he replied. 

And they returned to the salon, 

Mouret resumed his seat on the sofa, when the Baron 
Hartmann had first established himself there. Then 
the young man began a new eulogy on the operations 
of the Credit Immohilier^ from which he glided off to 
the subject he had most at heart ; he spoke of the new 
street, of the prolongation of the Rue Reaumur, of 
which a section was to be opened under the name of 
the Rue du Dix-Decembre, between the Place de la 
Bourse and the Place de TOpera. Its utility and 
expediency had been declared eighteen months previ- 
ously, the appropriation had been made and the whole 
Quartier was eager for this immense work to begin, 
and interested to know which houses would be 
condemned. For three years Mouret had eagerly 
awaited these movements, at first mainly with the idea 
that it would bring him more customers, but later with 
other plans and ideas which he dared not breathe 
aloud, so greatly had his dreams expanded. As the 
Rue du Dix-Decembre was to cut through the Rue 
de Choiseul and the Rue de la Michodiere, he saw the 
Bonheur des Dames with a palatial front on the new 
street, and from this vision arose his ardent desire to 
know Baron Hartmann, after he had learned that the 
Credit Immohilier^ by an agreement with the Admin- 
istration, had engaged to cut through the Rue du Dix- 
Decembre, on condition that the property fronting on 
this street should be ceded to them. Digitized by CjOOgle 


"Do 3'ou mean," he asked, trying to assume an art- 
less air, " that you will give them the street all graded 
and with gutters, sidewalks and gas? And will the 
frontage indemnify you? Upon my word, it is 
most curious." 

He had now reached a most delicate point. He 
•knew that the Credit Immohilier had secretly pur- 
chased the houses on the side of the street where 
stood ihQ.Bonheur des Dames — not only those which 
were to be demolished, but also others, which were 
to be left standing. And as he scented in this fact, 
some project of an establishment which should conflict 
with his interests, he was very uneasy in regard to the 
additions Avhich he was dreaming of making to the 
Bonheur. He did not like the idea of falling some day 
against a powerful Company which would not be likely 
to allow valuable property to slip through their fingers. 
It was this fear which decided him to form. some con- 
necting link between the Baron and himself. This 
link he found in a very charming woman. He would 
certainly have liked to see the financier in his private 
office where he could talk at ease of the grand trans- 
action which he wished to propose to him, but he 
felt stronger at Henriette's, where she was ready 
to convince them with a smile. 

'*Have you not bought the H8tel Duvillard — th^t 
old building next to me?" he suddenly asked. 

Baron Hartmann hesitated a moment; then he said 
"No." But Mouret, looking him in the face, began to 
laugh, and acted to perfection the role of a good- 
natured young fellow, who was frank and impu^si^^gle 


" Come, now," he said, " since I have b^en fortunate 
enough to meet 3'ou in tliis unexpected manner, I must 
really confess myself. Oh ! I don't ask for any of 
your secrets in return, but I shall confide mine to 
you because I am convinced that I cannot put them 
in safer hands. Besides, I need your advice, and have 
been long making up my mind to go to see you." 

He made his confession. He told of all he had 
done, and did not attempt to conceal the fact that 
he was even then passing through a financial crisis, 
great as was his success. He unfolded his most private 
affairs; he told how all his capital, all the yearly profits 
were regularly embarked in his business, and how his 
employds had risked their savings by placing them in 
bis House. 

But it was not money he now wanted, for he had 
unbounded faith in his increasing circle of customers. 
No, his ambition flew higher. He proposed to the 
Baron an association to which the Credit Immohilier 
would bring the colossal palace of which he had 
dreamed, while he in his turn would give his genius 
and the trade he had already created. 

" What do you purpose to do with your land ? " h^ 
asked earnestlj-, "you have some idea of course. But 
I am certain that it is not equal to mine. Think of 
it! We can build a series of shops under one head, 
which shall be the largest in Paris — a Bazar where we 
can make millions — Ah ! If I were only you ! " he 
continued with enthusiasm. "As for myself, I can 
do nothing alone. We ought to understand each 

other." Digitized by CjOOgle 


" My dear sir ! " expostulated Baron Hartmann. 
*' Your imagination is too lively." 

The Baron shook his head, he continued to smile, 
determined not to give confidence for confidence. The 
plan of the Credit Immohilier v/as to create on the Rue 
du Dix-Decembre and connected with the Grand 
HStel, a luxurious establishment, the central situation 
of which should attract strangers; but as this Hotel 
would occupy only the frontage, the Baron could still 
carry out Mouret's idea. But having already served 
two of Henriette's friends he was a little weary of 
enacting the part of a compliant protector. In spite, 
too, of his appreciation of the activity and enterprise 
which induced him to open his purse to all young men 
who showed courage and intelligence, the commercial 
coup suggested by Mouret astonished more than 
attracted him. 

Was it not a hazardous enterprise ? Was not a shop 
of the size contemplated, out of all proportion to the 
demand for such goods ? No, he did not believe in it, 
and he declined. 

"The idea," he said, "is not without its charm, only 
it is the idea of a poet. Where on earth would you 
find customers to fill such a cathedral ? " 

Mouret looked at him a moment in silence, almost 
stupefied by this refusal. Could it be possible that a 
man of such acuteness could be so blind! Suddenly 
he raised his arm and with an impassioned gesture 
pointed to the ladies in the salon^ as he cried : 

" Customers, did you say ? There they are ! " 

The sun was sinking fast, a soft golden lightlinger^ 


among the folds of the hangings, but the glow and 
brilliancy had gone. As darkness came on the ladies 
drew more closely together and talked in low whispers 
of a recent ball. 

Madame de Boves was describing a costume. 

*' It was mauve with flounces of old Alengon, thirty 
centimetres wide." 

" Is it possible I " interrupted Madame Marly. " How 
happy some women are 1 " 

Baron Hartmann who had followed Mouret's gesture, 
looked at these ladies through the open door. He 
listened to them with one ear, while the young man, 
fired with a desire to convince him, went on to explain 
his plan. 

" Trade," he said, " was based on the continued and 
rapid turning over of capital, which," he said, "should 
be exchanged for merchandise as often as possible in 
the same year. For example : his capital that same 
year, which was only five hundred thousand francs, had 
been turned over four times, and had thus produced 
two million ; he was convinced that in certain branches 
he could with advantage turn it over fifteen or twenty 

" You see, sir," he said, " the whole secret lies here. 
.Our only struggle is to get rid with all possible speed 
of all merchandise in stock, and replace it with some- 
thing else. In this way we can content ourselves with 
very small profit. Our general expenses run up to 
sixteen per cent., and as we never realize on our goods 
more than twenty per cent., we make four per cent, 
when we operate on enormous quantities of merchaii*^ 


dise. Merchandise constantly renewed, becomes an 
affair of millions. You follow me, do you not? " 

The Baron shook his head. He who had ventured 
on the boldest combinations and whose audacious 
enterprises were still spoken of, was uneasy and 

" I understand perfectly," he said. " You sell 
cheaply that you may sell largely, and you sell largely 
that you may sell cheaply, that is about it. Only you 
must- sell, and that brings me back to my original 
question : to whom will you sell ? How can you hope 
to keep up such an enormous sale as is essential to 
your business ? " 

A sudden outburst o*f voices from the salon, cut 
Mouret's explanations short. Madame Guibal had 
said that she should have preferred the flounces of 
old Alengon arranged en tahlier. 

"But my dear," said Madame de Boves, " the tablier 
was covered also. I never saw anything more superb." 

" You have given me an idea," exclaimed Madame 
Desforges. " I have some good Alengon. I must have 
more for a trimming ! " 

The voices died away into a low murmur in which 
prices and widths were eagerly discussed. 

" You see," said Mouret, when he could speak, " we 
can sell whatever we choose, when we know how to 
sell. • Our triumph is there." 

Then in his southern, impassioned way he be^an to 
talk of the great possibilities involved in his plan ; how 
a fair customer could buy the stuff at one counter, the 
trimmings at another, the thread at a third, and then 


too the innumerable temptations offered by thousands 
of pretty useless trifles. He spoke of the new habit of 
marking prices in plain distinct figures. If the old 
manner of doing business was passing away, it was 
because it could not stand the struggle entailed by 
these legible marks. At present a walk through the 
various shops established the prices, and each shop 
contented itself with the smallest possible profits. 
Nowhere were fabrics sold at twice their value, 
but operations were regular — a certain percentage on 
all merchandise. 

"I tell you," cried Mouret, "the women are all 
with me — and that is enough!" 

Baron Hartmann looked at the young man curiously. 
He was moved by his enthusiasm and energy, and 
began to like him a little. 

" Hush ! " he said, " you will be overheard." 

But the ladies were all now talking at once, and so 
excited that no one heard a word the others were 

Madame de Boves finished the description of the 
toilette— -a tunic of mauve silk draped with lace, the 
corsage very low, and knots of lace on the shoulders. 

" You will see," she said, " I can make a waist for 
myself like it of satin — " 

"I want velvet/' interrupted Madame Bourdelais; 
" sometimes one comes across a tremendous bargain." 

Then they all spoke at once in tones of ecstasy, of 
toilettes they imagined, and of purchases they proposed 
to make. 

Mouret in the meantime, after a glance at the ialon ^ 


continued his whispered confidences in the ear of the 
Baron, and exphiined the mechanism of modern com- 
merce. '^It was women," he said, "who were the main- 
spring of trade. It was they who were to be enticed, 
tempted and bewildered. They were attracted by bar- 
gains and tranquilized by the plain figures of the prices* 
attached. They were vanquished at first by appeals to 
them as housekeepers, and then carried away by their 
love of novelty and fashion." 

Under his words and flattering phrases, Mouret 
showed the brutality of a Jew who sells a woman 
by the pound. He builds a temple in her honor and 
creates a new religion ; he thinks only of her and seeks 
perpetually new ways of gratifying her caprices and 
tastes, and while he empties her purse and racks her 
nerves, he is full of the secret contempt of the man 
to whom a woman has been stupid enough to give 

" The truth is," said Mouret in a low voice to the 
Baron, "you can sell anything to women! " 

The Baron began to understand and pricked up his 
ears. He looked wise, and ended by admiring the 
inventor of this means of tempting women. 

"Well, my dear sir," asked Mouret, "will you join 
me ? What do you say ? " 

The Baron, half conquered, did yet not wish to com- 
mit himself, and struggled against the fascination of his 
new acquaintance. He was about to reply in an eva- 
sive fashion when an urgent summons from the ladies 
spared him the trouble. Several voices<,cried : 

" Monsieur Mouret ! Monsieur Mouretl ^^^C)Ogle 


And as Mouret, annoyed by the interruption, pre- 
tended not to hear, Madame de Boves came to the 
door of the small salon. 

" Yon are wanted, Monsieur Mouret," she said. "It 
is really very nngallant to bury yourself in a corner 
in this way to talk business ! " 

Then he rose with apparent good grace, one might 
have said with joy, and walked into the salon. The 
Baron followed, with feelings of mingled admiration 
and wonder. 

" I am at your service, ladies," said Mouret, with 
a smile. 

He was welcgmed by the feminine group which 
opened to make room for him. The sun had set 
behind the trees in the garden, and darkness was 
gathering in the room. It was that delicious hour 
when day had gone and lumps not yet lighted. 

Monsieur de Boves and Vallegnose were still stand- 
ing before a window, their shadows dark upon the 
carpet, while motionless, in the other window, was 
Monsieur Marly, who had gone there because bored 
and discomfited by the conversation of these ladies on 
the all important subject of dress. His face was pale 
with his duties as Professor, and he stood slender and 
erect in his tight-fitting coat. 

" Is it on Monday next that you have your grand 
opening?" asked Madame Marly. 

"Yes, Madame," answered Mouret in a flute-like 
voice, a voice he invariably assumed when he spoke to 


Henriette then spoke : 

Digitized by 



"You know we are all going," she said. "We hear 
that you have prepared wonders." 

"I don't know about 'wonders,'" he murmured, 
with an air of modesty, " I simply try to be worthy of 
your approval." 

But they plied him with questions. Madame Bour- 
delais, Madame Guibal, Blanche herself, wished to 

"Will you not tell us some of the particulars?" 
urged Madame de Boves. "We are dying to know." 

And they surrounded him, but Henriette remarked 
that he had not had even a cup of tea. It was too bad. 
Four of the ladies immediately hastened to serve him, 
on condition that he should answer their questions. 

Henriette poured out the tea. Madame Marly held 
the cup, while Madame de Boves and Madame Bourde- 
lais disputed the honor of sugaring it. Then, when 
he refused to take a chair and began to drink his tea 
slowly, standing among them, they all gathered about 
him and looked up into his face with smiles and 
shining eyes. 

"Tell us about your silk, your Pari% Bonheur^ of 
which all the newspapers are full," said Madame 
Marly, eagerly. 

"Oh ! " he replied, "it is really a most extraordinary 
bargain — a faille and a gros grain, soft and lustrous. 
You will see it, ladies, and you will see it only with us, 
for we have the exclusive control of it." 

" Do you really mean that it is a handsome silk at 
five francs, sixty centimes ! " said Madame Bourdelais, 
enthusiasticall3^ " It is incredible ! " 


This silk had assumed considerable importance in 
their daily lives. They had talked a great deal about 
it, and were eager as well as doubtful. The innu- 
merable questions they asked showed their especial 
characteristics. Madame Marly, eager only to spend 
money, took everything and anything at the Bonheur. 
Madame Guibal spent hours in the shop without 
making a single purchase, happy in feasting her eyes; 
Madame de Boves, always short of money, and tor- 
tured by her desire for these things which, she could 
not buy, and feeling a certain anger against the very 
goods she most admired ; Madame Bourdelais, wise 
and practical, took advantage of her opportunities 
and made use of the large establishment with the 
discretion of a good housekeeper, often thus securing 
great bargains ; Henriette, who was really very ele- 
gant, only bought certain articles there, her gloves, 
hosiery and linen. 

" We have other goods equally low in price," said 
Mouret, in his same musical voice. " I can recommend 
our Cuir d'Or, a taflfeta of incomparable lustre. In 
fancy silks we have a wonderful assortment, and choice 
designs selected by our buyer from among thousands. 
As to velvets, we have the choicest shades. Cloths 
are to be greatly worn this season. You will see 
Cheviots, MatelaasSs^ and other styles." 

They did not interrupt him. They listened with 
an absorbed expression and a faint smile, with heads 
slightly outstretched toward the Tempter, who stood 
unmoved, calmly sipping his tea between each phrase 

The air was heavy with the fragrance of this tea. 



Baron Hartmann, quietly looking on, felt his admi- 
ration increase for this young man. 

"They will wear cloth this winter, then?" asked 
Madame Marly, whose worn face lighted up with 
enthusiasm. " I really must have something of the 

Madame Bourdelais, whose serenity was undisturbed 
said, in her turn : 

" I shall certainly see what you have — for my whole 
family is to be clothed." 

And turning her pretty blonde head toward the 
mistress of the house, she asked: 

" You always go to Sauveur, do you not?" 

**'Yes," answered Henriette, "I always go to her, for 
I think she is the only woman in Paris who knows how 
to cut a waist ; and then, too, in spite of what Mon- 
sieur Mouret says, she has most original designs — 
designs unlike any one else, and I hate to see dresses 
precisely like my own worn by every second woman I 

Moi\ret smiled discreetly, and then he gave the 
group to understand that Madame Sauveur bought all 
her materials from his establishment. It is true that 
she might occasionally purchase from some manufac- 
turer the whole of some one style. This might be so, 
he would not say to the contrary — but he knew for a 
certainty that all her black silks were obtained at the 
Bonheur ; when especial bargains were offered, she 
laid in large supplies, and then doubled and quad- 
rupled the price. . (^r^aXo 

T I ,,1 T -. 1 , , Digitized by VjOOQIC 

"1 know, he added, " thnt she and other dr6ss- 


makers will sweep out all our Paris Bonheur^ that is, 
if you ladies allow her to do so." 

This was too much for these ladies. The idea of 
losing the bargain they had anticipated, exasperated 
them — for women as a rule find ten times the enjoy- 
ment in making a purchase when they believe them- 
selves to be getting it under its value. A bargain is 
dear to the heart of a woman. 

'•But we intend to have many bargains for you, 
ladies," Mouret added, gayly, as he took up the fan 
belonging to Madame Desforges, that had been laid on 
a table. 

"Now, look at this fan," he continued. "I have no 
idea what it cost." 

"The chantilly was twenty-five francs, and the 
mounting two hundred." * 

"Indeed! Well, the chantilly was not dear; still, 
we have the same thing at eighteen francs. As to 
the mounting, dear lady, you have been abominably 
cheated. I will agree to furnish you with one 
precisely like it for ninety francs." 

" I knew it ! " cried Madame Bourdelais. 

"Ninety francs!" murmured Madame Boves, "a 
woman must be really without a sou in her pocket, 
to pass by a fan at that price I " 

She was again examining the fan with her daughter 
Blanche, and on her large face with its regular fea- 
tures, and in her heavy lidded eyes there was an 
expression of envy and longing which she could not 

A second time did the fan make fliffi'^Wu^A^^gk^ 


the ladies, to a chorus of remarks and exclamations. 
Monsieur de Boves and Vallegnose, in the meantime, 
had left the window. While the former placed him- 
self behind Madame Guibal, the young man leaned 
over Blanche and endeavored to make himself agree- 
able to her. 

"But is not that fan a little dismal looking?" he 
asked, " that white ivory with the black lace suggests 

" Oh ! " she answered gravely, " I saw one the other 
day that was much prettier — ^it was mother-of-pearl 
and white feathers." 

Monsieur de Boves, who had probably noticed the 
envious eyes with which his wife followed the fan, 
said, quietly: 

"Those things break very easily, do they not?" 

" Don't speak of it ! " cried Madame Guibal, with a 
shrug of her pretty shoulders. " I am quite worn out 
with having mine mended." 

Madame Marly, greatly excited by this conversation, 
was nervously fingering the red leather bag on her 
knees. ' She had not yet shown her purchases, and she 
was wild to exhibit them. All at once she seemed to 
forget her husband, and opening her bag with an 
abrupt snap of the spring, she pulled out a card on 
which was wound several yards of narrow lace. 

" Look at this Valenciennes for my daughter," she 
said. " Is it not wonderful for one franc ninety ? " 

The ladies exclaimed in surprise, and Mouret said 
that he had given orders that all such remnants should 
be sold at cost. Digitized by C^OOgle 


Madame Marly closed her bag as if to say she should 
show nothing more. But after the success of the 
Valenciennes, she could not resist pulling out a 

'^Brussels appliquS^ my dear — and only twenty 
francs ! " 

The bag seemed inexhaustible. She colored and 
laughed with each article she showed. There was 
a neck- tie of Spanish blonde at thirty francs. She 
did not want it particularljs but the clerk had sworn 
that it was the last at that price. Then there was 
a Chantilly veil ; a little dear — fifty francs, but if she 
did not wear it herself, she could make something 
of it for her daughter. " I adore laces ! " she said, 
with her nervous little laugh, "and when I am in a 
shop I feel as if I must buy every inch in it ! " 

"And what is this?" asked Madame de Boves, 
taking up some guipure. 

"That? oh! it is an inserting — thirty yards, at a 
franc a yard." • 

" Good gracious ! " said Madame Bourdelais, ^t what 
on earth can you do with it?" 

"I am sure I don't know. I got it because the 
design was so peculiar." 

At this moment she lifted her eyes and beheld the 
horrified face of her husband. He was paler than 
ever, and his whole person expressed the resigned 
anguish of a poor man who looks on at the wilful throw- 
ing away of money earned with such infinite toil and 
trouble. Each bit of lace was to him a new disaster — 
emblematic of long, weary hours at his^io^kpof walks 

124 THE "bonheur des dames 


through mud and rain, of the constant strain* made on 
his energies by the demands of a needy household. 

When his wife caught his eyes, she tried to gather 
up the handkerchief, cravat and veil, and as her feverish 
hands hovered over these things, she said, with one of 
her nervous, uncomfortable laughs : 

" You have caused me to be scolded by my husband, 
but I assure you," she added, addressing Monsieur 
Marly, "that I have really been very reasonable. I 
saw some round point at five hundred francs. Oh ! it 
was simply wonderful ! " 

"Why did you not buy it ? " asked Madame Guibal, 
quietly. "Monsieur Marly is the most gallant of men." 

The Professor ought to have bowed low at this com- 
pliment, and should have said that his wife could have 
made such purchases as she pleased. But the thought 
of the danger he had escaped, sent a cold chill down 
his back, and as Moure t had just said that great shops 
like his own added to the comfort of all hojnes, he 
darted at him a reproachful glance in which was the 
furtive hatred of a timid man. 

The ladies in the meantime had not relinquished the 
laces. They unrolled and fingered them, and plaited 
them in little folds. They questioned Mouret more 
eagerly than before. He bent over them in the gather- 
ing darkness, his beard touching their hair at times, 
but he was still their master in spite of the feminine 
excitement he feigned. 

" Oh ! Monsieur Mouret ! Monsieur Mouret ! " mur- 
mured the voices of these women, who seemed to regard 
^he young man as the monarch of feminine fripperies. ^ 



The white lace lay like snow on the knees of these 
devoted worshipers, a fiery gleam came from the spirit 
lamp under the tea-kettle, and the fragrance of tea 
filled the room. 

Suddenly a servant entered with lamps, and the 
charm was broken. The salon was transformed — all 
was bright and gay. Madame Marly closed her bag 
on her treasures, Madame de Boves began to eat a 
haba^ while Henriette, standing a little apart, was 
talking in a low voice with the Baron. 

" He is charming ! " said the Baron. 

"Is he not?" she cried, involuntarily. 

He smiled upon her with paternal indulgence. It 
was the first time he had believed her really in love, 
and he felt a certain compassion when he thought of 
her, as at the mercy of this cold-hearted man whose 
character he had correctly read- 
He thought 'it his duty to warn her, and murmured, 
in a ha,lf jesting tone : 

"Look out, my dear; he has absolutely no heart. 
He will eat you one of these days ! " 

Henriette's beautiful eyes flashed. She understood 
of course that Mouret had simply made use of her to 
approach the Baron. And she swore* to herself tliat 
this man, to whom her love was but an episode in his 
hurried business career, should yet adore her madly, 
but she answered the Baron with a smile, affecting to 
jest in her turn. 

"Ah! it is always the lamb who ends by eating the 
wolf, you know! " 

Greatly amused, the Baron nodded encouragingly 

12(3 THE "bonheur des dames." 

Perhaps, after all, she was the woman who would 
avenge the wrongs of the rest of her sex. 

When Mouret, after reminding Vallegnose that he 
wished to show him his whole establishment, went to 
take leave, the Baron led him into tlie recess of the 
window looking out upon the dark garden. There 
they talked together for some minutes in low voices. 
Then the Banker said : 

"Very well, I will look into the matter. My decision 
will be in your favor, if your opening next Monday is 
what it now promises to be." 

They shook hands, and Mouret, greatly pleased, 
departed. He returned to the Bonheur^ for he never 
dined well unless he had satisfied himself as to the 
receipts of the day. 

Digitized by 




ry^HE eventful Monday, October 10th, arrived. The 
1 sun dissipated the clouds that for a week had 
hung over the city of Paris. It had rained all night, 
but the wind that carried away the clouds had also 
dried the sidewalks, and the sky was as clear and blue 
as spring. 

The Bonheur dea Dames was in all its glory — every- 
thing was prepared for its winter opening, and its 
windows irradiated the street with its symphonies of 
colors. But the hour was as yet too early for cus- 
tomers, only a few busy housewives appeared who 
were anxious to avoid the crowd that was inevitable 
later in the day. On the Rue Neuve-Saint-Augustin 
and Place Gaillon, where the carriages were expected 
to stand, there was as yet only two fiacres. The 
dwellers in that Quartier^ especially the small shop- 
keepers, stood about at the corners indulging in bit- 
ter remarks to each other. These persons were espe- 
cially indignant at the appearance in the Rue de la 
Michodidre of four new wagons, painted red and 
picked out with yellow — their highly varnished sides 
glittered in the sunlight, showing the name of the house 
in large letters. One of these wagons, drawn by a su- 
perb horse, started off with packages which had been 
purchased after the last delivery of the previous day*! 


Baudu followed with eyes of hate this wagon which 
was to bear the detested name of the Bonheur des 
Dames all through Paris. 

Several fiacres now drove into the Place. Each 
time a customer entered tlie shop there was a gene- 
ral movement among the liveried servants drawn up 
under the high porch. Tlieir livery was a coat and pan- 
taloons of bright green, and vests of yellow and red 
stripes. Inspector Jouve wore a long coat and white 
cravat. He received the ladies with an air of grave 
courtesy, and pointed out to them the counters to 
which they desired to go. 

Then the ladies passed on into the vestibule which, 
for that day, was transformed into an* eastern salon. 

This was a charming surprise which had originated 
in Mouret's mind. He had bought in the L«^vant in 
excellent condition, a collection of rugs both old and 
new, rugs which previously only curiosity shops had 
sold at all. Mouret proposed to inundate the market 
and sell them almost at the price he had paid for them, 
while at the same time he made of them an artistic 
and splendid decoration. - This eastern salon could be 
seen from the Place Gaillon, draped with rugs and 
portieres, under the skilful direction of Mouret. From 
the ceiling were stretched Smyrna rugs of complicated 
designs on red grounds, then around the four sides 
were portieres — portieres of Karamanie and Syria, in 
stripes of yellow, green and vermillion — and others 
more common and rough in texture. There were 
also rugs that could be used as window curtains, with 
strange arabesques, or rich with palms and peoniest! 


There was one large rug from Agra, a white ground 
and a pale blue border over which ran audaciously 
violet and purple arabesques. In every direction 
wonders met the eye, praying rugs from Daghestan 
and Mecca with the symbolic point, and in a corner 
were piles of low priced rugs from Coula and Kircheen. 
This salon, or to speak more correctly this tent, was 
furnished with divans and chairs covered with saddle- 
bags, some in velvet squares, others embroidered with 
flowers — Turkey, Arabia, Persia and the Indies were 
all represented. Palaces and Mosques had been sacked. 
Tawny gold was the predominant color,, and the faded 
tints of the older rugs were as warm and rich as those 
of the old masters. And visions of Eastern splendor 
and luxury rose spontaneously in the brain amid all 
this barbaric luxury, and this strange mysterious 
odor which these woolens had brought from the land 
of the sun. 

In the morning at eight o'clock, when Denise, who 
was to begin her engagement that day, liad crossed the 
Oriental salon which we have tried to describe, she stood 
transfixed, hardly knowing where she was. One of the 
servants placed her in the hands of Madame Cabiu 
who had the charge of the chambers. . She was given 
No. 7, where her trunk had been already placed. It 
was a narrow cell under a Mansard roof; the furniture 
consisted of a little bed, a wardrobe, dressing-table and 
two chairs. Twenty similar cells were on a long cor- 
ridor, and of the thirty-five girls who were employed 
in two departments of the Bonheur^ the twenty who 
had no families in Paris slept there. The fifteen oth^s 


lodged out with aunts or cousins borrowed for the 

Deiiise at once hastened to remove her well- 
brushed shabby gown, the only one she had brought 
from Valognes. Then she dressed herself in the 
uniform of the cloak room, a black silk that lay ready 
for her on the bed. The dress was too large for her, 
but her haste was so great and her emotion so extreme 
that she did not even notice this fact. She had never 
before worn silk, and as she descended the stairs and 
the light fell on her shining skirts, and she heard the 
rustle of the folds, she felt almost ashamed. As she 
entered the cloak room she heard a quarrel going on. 

Clara was saying in a sharp voice : " I was here 
first, Madame." 

''It is not true," answered Marguerite, "she hustled 
me away from the door, but my foot was already in the 

They were talking of the slate on which the sales- 
women inscribed their names in the order of their 
arrival, and whenever any of them had a customer she 
placed her name under her own. 

Madame Aurdlie sided with Marguerite. 

"Unjust as usual!" muttered Clara, angrily. But 
the appearance of Denise reconciled these young ladies. 
They looked at her and exchanged a. smile. The 
new comer went up to the slate and wrote her name, 
which was the last. 

Madame Aur^lie watched her uneasily, and finally 
could not refrain from saying : 

" My dear, two of you could be put ^ftiAti^Or^Je 


It must be altered to fit you. Then too you do not 
know how to dress yourself, come here that I may fix 
you a little." 

And Madame Aur^lie led the girl to one of the long 
mirrors which alternated with the doors of the ward- 
robe, in which were kept the cloaks and wraps. The 
enormous room, carpeted with a red Moquette, and 
surrounded with mirrors, looked like a salon in a 
Hotel, through which hundreds of persons daily pass. 
The saleswomen moved up and down; they never 
seated themselves on the few chairs reserved for 
customers. They each had thrust between two of tlie 
buttons in the front of their dresses, a long pencil, and 
from their pockets emerged the white leaves of their 
books. Several of these girls indulged in rings, watches 
and chains, but their greatest coquetry, in the enforced 
uniformity of their toilette, was in the careful arrange- 
ment of their hair, which was puffed and braided and 
increased by artificial additions, if nature had not 
liberally supplied them. 

"Draw the belt further over," said Madame Aur^- 
lie. " There I that takes away the wrinkles behind, at 
all events. And your hair, it is superb. How can you 
treat it in this way ? " 

Her hair was, indeed, the girl's only beaut3^ Very 
fair — the true blonde cendrS — it fell to her knees -in 
heavy masses. When she did it up her only idea was 
to roll it as compactly as possible, and hold it with 
a strong horn comb. Clara did not approve of this 
magnificent hair, and laughed ostentatiously at the 
awkward manner in which it '^i^g^^^nes^^yj^She 

132 THE "bonheur des dames." 

beckoned to her side a saleswoman in the lingerie 
department, a girl with a large face and pleasant 
expression. The two departments were often at open 
war, but they occasionally fraternized to ridicule some 
poor unfortunate. 

"Mademoiselle Pauline, do 3-011 see that mane?" - 
said Clara, while Marguerite feigned to be dying of 

Pauline was not inclined to join in this mockery. 
She looked at Denise, and remembered what she had 
suffered herself the first month she had been in those 

"Well! what of it?" she said; "it is a pity that 
we have not manes like it ! " 

And she went back to her counter, leaving the two 
others feeling very uncomfortable. Denise, who had 
heard it all, followed her with a look of gratitude, 
while Madame Aur^lie gave her a book and said : 

" To-morrow you will arrange yourself better. And 
now, try to do the best you can. This will be a hard 
day for you, but you can show your capabilities." 

Few customers came up to the cloak room at this 
early hour, and the saleswomen nursed themselves for 
the fatigues of the afternoon. 

Denise, in order to do something, cut her pencil, 
nad in imitation of the others, thrust it between two 
of the buttons of her waist. She exhorted herself to 
take courage — it was necessary that she should be 
mistress of the situation. The previous evening she 
had been informed that she could take the situation 
without a fixed salary at first, and with o^^iJ^f^a^^j^ 


mission on the sales she should make. But she hoped 
soon to receive twelve hundred francs, and even 
aspired in the future to two thousand, which she 
knew good saleswomen could obtain when they took 
pains. One hundred francs per month would permit 
her to pay P(jp6's board and to clothe Jean, who did 
not receive a sou. She could live with an occasional 
purchase of clothing and linen. To gain this hundred 
francs per month, however, she must show herself 
strong and courageous — she must learn not to heed 
the ill-natured remarks around her, but to hold her 
own and take her share of the customers who entered 
the room. As she stood thus reasoning with herself, 
a tall young man passed through the room and smiled 
at her ; she recognized Deloche, who had been received 
into the lace department the evening before; she 
- returned the smile, happy in this friendly greeting, 
which seemed to be a good omen. At half-past nine 
a bell rang for the first breakfast, a little later there 
was another bell and another breakfast — and yet no 
customers appeared. Madame Frederic, in the grim 
austerity of her widowhood, was rather pleased at 
the id«a of a disaster, and declared that the day was 
lost — they might as well lock the wardrobes and go 
away. These words dispirited Marguerite, while Clara 
wondered, if the establishment failed, if she* should be 
able to join the party to the Bois de Verri^res. As to 
Madame Aurdlie, silent and grave, she paraded the 
room like a general on whom rests the responsibility of 
victory or defeat. 

About eleven o'clock, several ladies appeared, c'lt 

134 THE "bonheur des dames 


was for Denise to advance, it was her turn to wait on 
a customer. 

"The milkmaid, if you please — step back for the 
milkmaid!" murmured Marguerite. 

The customer was a woman of about forty-five, 
who had come from some distant Province. She had 
been hoarding every sou for some time, and as soon 
as she reached Paris she hastened from the train to the 
Bonheur des Dames, She never sent for the things she 
required by letter for she liked, she said, to use her 
eyes. She bought everything, and every clerk in the 
e^^tablishment knew her, and knew that her name was 
Madame Bontarel, and that she lived at Albi, but they 
troubled themselves no further about her. 

" You are well, I trust, Madame ? " asked Madame 
Aur^lie, who advanced graciously. "And what will 
you have ? " 

Then, turning: 

" Young ladies ! " she said. 

Denise obeyed the summons, but Clara anticipated 
her. Generally, Clara was indolent, and made little • 
exertion to secure customers, as she made more 
money outside and with less fatigue. But the idea of 
depriving the new shop girl of a good customer 
spurred her on. 

"Excuse me, it is my turn," said Denise, indignantly. 

Madame Aur^lie looked at her disapprovingly and 
said, in a low but severe voice: 

" There is no turn. I am sole mistress here, if you 

The girl fell back, and as tears rose to her eyes shee 


turned her back to conceal them. Did they intend to 
prevent her from selling? Did they all mean to play 
into each other's hands? A sudden fear of the future 
assailed her, and looking into the street she saw 
her uncle's sign just opposite. She wished she h^dd 
implored him to keep her — perhaps he would have 
yielded to lier entreaties, for he seemed quite touched 
as he talked to her the previous evening. Here she 
was alone in this great place where no one loved her. 
P^p^ and Jean were among strangers — these two boys 
who had never before left her side. The • street was 
suddenly obscured, and she saw her uncle's sign 
through a mist of tears. 

Behind her, all this time, there was a murmur of 

" It is too tight," said Madame Bontarel. 

" Oh ! no, Madame, you are mistaken," said Clara. 
"The shoulders jBt to perfection, but perhaps you 
would prefer a pelisse to a mantle." 

Denise started. A hand was laid on her arm, and 
Madame Aur^lie said, sharply : 

" This will never do ! Do you propose to spend the 
morning looking into the street?" 

" You told me that I could not sell, Madame." 

"There is other work for you, however. Begin 
with the beginning. You must fold the garments and 
replace them in the wardrobes." 

Then Madame turned away, while Denise, without 
a word, went to the two long oak tables where lay the 
garments of all shapes and sizes which had been taken 
out to please fastidious customers. The girl began-^ 


fold them and place them in the wardrobes where they 
belonged. This was the work usually given to dSbur 
tantes. Denise felt that the first thing required of her 
was passive, unquestioning obedience until the fore- 
woman should allow her to sell, as at first she had 
seemed inclined to do. 

Denise was busy in this way when Mouret appeared. 
She started and colored without knowing why. She 
felt the same strange fear, the same sinking of the 
heart when she thought he was going to speak to her. 
But he did not even see her; he had forgotten the 
impression she had made on him. 

" Madame Aur^lie ! " he called, abruptly. 

He was paler than usual, but his e3'es were clear and 
decided. He had been through the entire establish- 
ment and, startled to find them empty, had been 
assailed by a sudden fear of defeat. It was true that 
the clock had just struck eleven, and he knew by 
experience that a crowd never arrived until after- 
noon. But certain trifling indications disturbed him. 
On other opening days there had always been more 
people early in the morning. Like all great captains 
on the eve of a decitjive battle, a superstitious weak- 
ness had assailed him. If he failed to-day he was 
ruined, and he could not have told why : he thought 
he read his defeat on the faces of all about him. 

At this moment Madame Bontarel, she who always 
bought, went away, saying: 

"You have nothing that pleases me. I will look 
about a little and decide." 

Mouret watched her as she went away. Tteni^^&j^ 


Madame Aur^lie hurried toward him at his summons, 
he led her aside; the tv/o exchanged a few rapid 
words. She shrugged her shoulders despairingly and 
the two stood face to face, stunned by that fear which 
generals hide from their men. Then he said aloud : 

"If you need assistance, take in a girl from the 
work-room. She will be of some use." He continued 
his inspection morosely. He had avoided Bourdoucle 
all the morning; he did not wish to hear his own 
doubts put into words. 

On leaving the lingeriS department, where trade 
was utterly stagnant, he met him face to face, and was 
compelled to listen to all Bourdoucle's moans and 
fears. At last Mouret bade him hold his tongue and 
go to the devil, with a brutality which, in certain 
moods, he was quite ready to shower upon those under 

" I tell you," he said, " all will go well ; and cowards 
had best take themselves away ! " 

Mouret took his stand at the foot of the stairs. 
From this point he could overlook the whole lower 
floor. The great void and quiet were intensely 
depressing. At the lace counter an old lady had 
had all the boxes pulled down, and had gone away 
without buying anything, while three young women at 
the lingeriS counter were selecting each a collar at 
fifteen sous. But at the extreme end of the shop 
Mouret noticed that there were many more people. 

The shop-boys in their iiniforms, on which glittered 
large brass buttons, waited for people to come with 
visible impatience. One of the Inspectorj^^g^^c^i^c^^f^ 

138 THE "bokheur des dames." 

sionally pass, stiff and erect in his white cravat, and 
Mouret's heart sank within him at the stillness. 
Carriages were certainly driving up, for doors were 
shut violentl}'. But the cashiers were idle behind 
their wickets, and the tables on which packages were 
tied up and from whence all goods were sent out, were 
bare and guiltless of any bundles. 

Mouret, vexed at himself for having had any fears, 
now began to feel that his machine would soon begin 
to work. 

"Look here, Favier," murmured Huten, "look at 
the master; it strikes me that he has not a very 
festive expression ! " 

"I am utterly disgusted," answered Favier. "I 
have not sold a penny's worth to-day ! " 

These two men, as they kept their eyes open for cus- 
tomers, uttered disconnected phrases from time to 
time, without looking at each other. 

Several salesmen under the direction of Robineau, 
were bringing out huge pieces of ^^ Paris Bonheur^'' 
while Bouthemont seemed to be receiving an impor- 
tant order from a thin young woman, with whom he 
was holding a whispered conference. On Stageres were 
piled silks in long covers of cream* colored paper, and 
on the counters lay moires, satins and velvets of all 
colors and shades. 

"I want a hundred francs for Sunday," said Huten, 
" and if I don't make twelve francs to-day, I am lost. 
I relied on this opening! " 

"A hundred francs, indeed ! " answered Favier, " you 
are modest ! If I make sixty or seventy. I am^^iU^^&jiL 


Wh> must 3'ou have one hundred francs by that 

" Because I was fopl enough to make a bet. I lost 
it, and must dine five persons — two men and three 
women. Zounds ! I will cut off twenty-five yards of 
the ' Paris Bonheur ' for the first woman who passes ! " 

They talked of what they had done the previous 
evening, and of what they would do during the next 
week. Favier wanted to go to the races ; Huten pre- 
ferred the singers of the cafS concert. But the same 
desire for money inspired them both. They seemed to 
think of little less. They struggled for it. from Mon- 
day morning until Saturday night, and then spent all 
they could get on Sunday. 

Boutheraont had received from Madame Sauveur, 
the thin woman with whom he had been talking, a 
very large order — two or three dozen pieces of the 
^'' Paris Bonheur, ^^ 

" On my word, this is too much ! " muttered Huten, 
who profited by the smallest trifles to embitter his 
fellow clerks against the man whose position he coveted. 
"In my opinion neither the first nor second clerks 
ought to sell, and upon my honor, if I ever become 
second clerk you will see how I will act toward you." 

And his plump little face and form were radiant 
with good nature. Favier gave him one sarcastic 
glance, but restraining his bile he said : 

*' Yes, of course. I don t doubt it." 

Then as a lady approached he added in a lower 

" Attention ! Here comes some one to youj^oOQle 

140 THE "bonheur des dames/' 

The lady wore a yellow bonnet and a red dress. 
Huten instantly divined with his wonderful instinct 
that the woman would buy nothing. He stooped down 
behind the counter and pretended to tie his shoe string, 
and murmured to his companion while in this position. 

" Tliank you, no. I don't propose to lose my time 
for her ! " 

Meanwhile Robineau called him. 

" Huten ! Where is Huten ? " 

And as that individual did not reply, the salesman 
next in turn, received the lady. She merely asked for 
samples with prices, but detained the salesman more 
than twenty minutes. Presently Robineau saw Huten 
rise from behind the counter, and when a new customer 
appeared, Robineau interfered and prevented the young 
man from stepping forward. 

" You have lost your turn," he said in a severe tone, 
" I called you and as you were behind the counter, I — " 

" But I did not hear." 

" Enough. Favier, it is your turn." 

With a look, Favier, who was really greatly amused, 
apologized to his friend who turned away pale with 
rage. He was all the more indignant because he knew 
the customer, an excessively pretty woman who con- 
stantly appeared at his counter, and was known to all 
the salesmen as " the blonde." They had none of them 
heard her name or knew where she lived. She bought 
largely, had her purchases placed in her carriage and 
disappeared. Tall and elegant, dressed always in per- 
fect taste, she seemed to be wealthy and fashionable. 

"Well? And your cocotte^ what did she buy to 

Digitized by VjOOQl€ 


day?" asked Huten when Favier returned from the 
cashier's desk where he had accompanied the lady. 

" Oh ! she is no cocotte^ she is the wife of a banker 
or a physician, or something of that kind." 

"Nonsense! she is a cocotte ; those creatures now- 
adays put on the most tremendous airs of propriety ! " 

Favier was writing in his book. 

"Nevermind what she is. The things she bought 
amounted to two hundred and ninety-three francs, 
and that will give me three francs." 

Huten shut his lips very closely together, and then 
began to grumble about the new book, which was a 
senseless bother, he said. 

Between these men there was a perpetual conflict in 
a quiet way. Favier as a rule pretended to recognize 
Huten's superiorit\% while in reality he scoffed at his 
pretensions. Huten was intensely indignant that he 
should be robbed, as he considered it, of the three 
francs, for he regarded this lady as his especial 

" A nice way this is, to be sure ! " he muttered, " if 
it goes on I shall not make enough to give even 
Seltzer water to my friends ! " 

He watched the head clerk of his counter as he 
conducted Madame Sauveur to the door, and heard 
him say : 

"Very good. Tell him then that I will do my best 
to obtain this favor from Monsieur Mouret." 

Mouret had long since disappeared from the position 
he had occcupied on the stairs. Suddenly he was seen 
again in the same place. His fiice had brightened^ 

142 THE "bonheur des damks." 

wonderfully, for his confidence in himself had returned. 
The shop was gradually becoming crowded. He had 
despaired for a moment. The disastrous morning, due 
to a heavy shower that had fallen between nine and ten 
o'clock, might yet be repaired, for blue sky and sun- 
shine were again to be seen. Mouret was reassured 
by the sight of the different rooms, the lace and shawl 
Departments were packed. In the silk room, ladies 
had taken off their gloves that they might test the 
quality of the ''^ Paris Bonheur^^^ while talking to- 
gether as if in a drawing-room. He heard the constant 
roll of carriages stopping at his door, and bustle and stir 
from the basement to the attic. Inspector Jouve walked 
up and down the shop, looking out for pickpockets. 

" Hollo ! is that you ? '* said Mouret, as he recognized 
Paul de Vallegnose, who had made his way to him with 
the assistance of one of the liveried shop boys. " No, 
you do not disturb me in the least; and besides, you 
could not have selected a better day to watch the 
working of my machine, for I must be everywhere and 
you can follow me." 

Mouret was not without anxiety even yet. There 
was a crowd to be sure, but would the sales be large in 
proportion — that was the point. 

Nevertheless he laughed with Paul, and seemed to be 
in the best of spirits. 

"Things look better," said Huten, "but I have no 
luck to-day — look there now ! " 

And he made a little motion with his chin toward a 
lady who was going away after a disgusted look at all 
the goods she had seen. ^.^^^^^^^ by C.OOgle 


Generally, Huten made large sales, and invariably 
received a larger percentage than Favier, and now this 
fellow, as he mentally stigmatized him, was taking 
eveiything, for he saw him now measuring off a dress. 
It was perfectly exasperating! 

He suddenly exclaimed : 

" Do you know Madame Desforges, the fair friend of 
our employer? That is she at the glove counter — the 
brunette, I mean, on whom Mignol is waiting." 

He was silent for a moment, and then spoke again as 
if addressing Mignol : 

"Go on, go on, squeeze her hand hard; I know all 
your ways and what your conquests amount to." 

Between himself and Mignol there was the rivalry 
of handsome men who both claimed to have little 
flirtations with their customers. But in reality they 
had-nothing to boast of. Mignol told a pretty story 
of the wife of a police commissioner who had fallen 
desperately in love with him, while Huten professed to 
have had a similar experience ; but they both lied. 
They wished to be believed that countesses made 
rendezvous with them between two purchases, or while 
waiting for the change. 

A long row of ladies were seated before the narrow 
glove counter covered with green velvet. Smiling 
clerks were opening flat boxes of a delicate rose color, 
which they took from drawers under the counter 
itself. Mignol, with his suave Parisian ways, had 
already made large sales. Madame Desforges had 
bought a dozen pair of long kid gloves — Bonheur 
gloves, a specialty of the house. She then toDk4h^^ 

144 THE "bonheur des dames 


pair of ffants de Suede. And now she was trying on a 
pair of gants de Saxe, 

"Oil! it is perfection, Madame!" said Mignol. 
\'Six and three-quarters would be too large for a 
hand like yours! " 

Half lying on the counter he held her hand, pushing 
on the fingers one by one with a lingering, caressing 
movement, looking in her face with a tender expression 
in his handsome eyes. But she, with her elbow resting 
on the velvet, surrendered her hand to him with as 
tranquil an air as she would have given her foot to her 
maid to have her boot buttoned. She did not think of 
him as a man, but as a servant, and with hemsual 
disdain did not even look at him. 

"I am not hurting you, Madame, I hope?" 

She shook her head. She liked the odor of gloves 
de Saxe^ and often laughed when she acknowledged her 
predilection for this equivocal perfume ; she was think- 
ing of her gloves, and not of the man who was putting 
them on. 

''And now what else, Madame?" 

"Nothing, thanks. Please send this package to 
cashier No. 10, for Madame Desforges." 

An habitu^ of the liouse, she was in the habit of 
sending all her packages to the desk of one of the 

When she went away, Mignol winked as he looked 
after her, and then turning to the clerk next him, 
wishing to make him suppose that something extra- 
ordinary had taken place, he muttered some insolent 
remark in a low voice. ,.g,^^, ,^ (^OOgle 


Madame Desforges continued her purchases. She 
went to the left and bought some towels, then went on 
to the woolens under the gallery. She happened to be 
particularly pleased with her cook, and wis*hed to make 
her a present of a dress. 

This department was crowded with all the women of 
the neighborhood ; they were feeling the various stuffs 
and making silent calculations. She took her seat at 
one of the counters already piled high with pieces of 
goods that the salesmen had one by one placed there at 
the expense of considerable muscular exertion. There 
were iron grays, and steel grays, blue grays and all 
tints of brown ; bright plaids made an agreeable variety, 
and the white tickets on these pieces looked like the 
first flakes of snow falling on the black and frozen 
December soil. 

Lidnard was Jesting with a good looking seamstress 
behind a pile of poplin ; the woman had been sent by 
her mistress to match a bit of merino. Li^nard hated 
these " openings " when his arms, as he said, were nearly 
wrenched from their sockets, and he never made the 
smallest effort to sell, doing just enough to save being 

"Listen Miss Fanny," he said, "you are always in 
such a hurrj^ How did that vigogne make up the 
other day?" 

But the woman made her escape with a laugh, and 
Li^nard turning suddenly found himself face to face 
with Madame Desforges. He was obliged to say to 
her : " What can I do for you, Madame ? " 

" She wanted an inexpensive dresspi' §he saidpgte 

146 THE "bonheur des dames." 

it must be good." Li^nard, who thought much of his 
arms, manoeuvred to make her take something that was 
already on the counter. He swore there was nothing 
better in the house than these cashmeres, vigognes 
and serges; that there was no wear out to them. 
But none of these fabrics seemed to suit her. She 
saw high up a plaid she fancied. He was obliged 
to pull it down, and she pronounced it too coarse. 
Then she looked at cheviots, diagonals, all of which 
she fingered and examined. The young man's back 
and arms were nearly broken, and the counter had 
entirely disappeared. Finally, with no intention of 
buying, she asked to see grenadines and Q-aze de 
Chambery, When she had indulged in this amuse- 
ment long enough she said, ''Oh ! the first thing I saw 
will do as well as another. It is only for my cook. 
Give me the serge with the small figures upon it, the 
one at two francs." 

And as Li^nard gave an angry jerk with his yard 
stick, she added : 

" Send it to cashier No. 10, for Madame Desforges." 
As she moved away she recognized Madame Marly 
who was accompanied by her daughter, Valentine, a 
tall girl of fourteen, sharp featured and bold, who 
already looked at the pretty things in the shop with 
the covetous eyes of a woman. 

"Ah! . It is you, then, dear Madame." 

"Yes, it is I. And did you ever know such a 
crowd ? " 

" Don't speak of it. It is really dreadful. But an 
immense success! Have you seen the Oriental ^^6i©gl^ 


'* Superb ! wonderful I ' 

And knocked and elbowed as they stood, the. ladies 
still maintained their ground, and began to talk of the 
cheapness and beauty of the rugs. 

Then Madame Marly went on to sa^*- that she was 
looking for the material for a wrap. She could find 
nothing she liked; she had thought of a matelass^ 

" Too common, mamma," murmured Valentine. 

" Let us go into the silk department," said Madame 
Desforges ; " we ought to look at these famous black 
silks, the ' Paris Bonheur.^ " 

Madame Marly hesitated, for she had solemnly prom- 
ised her husband to commit no extravagances. She 
had been buying a great deal — ruches and a muff for 
herself, and stockings for her daughter. 

She said to the clerk who was showing her the cloth 
matelass^ : 

" No I I will go to the Department." 

The clerk took her purchases and preceded the 

The silk Department was jammed. There was an 
especial crush before the display arranged by Huten, 
to which Mouret had given the finishing touches of a 
master-hand. Light satins and silks — with the cool, 
transparent shadows of running water. Nile green, 
Danube blue, May rose and violet. Then there were 
satins richer and stronger in hue, and below were 
heaped damasks and brocades, with velvets of every 
color. Women with faces pale with envy, bent 
oyer them or stood gazing at this cataract wither 

148 THE "bonheur des dames." 

dull fear of being swept away or with an irresistible 
impulse to throw themselves into it and be forever lost. , 

"You here, too?" said Madame Desforges, as she 
saw Madame Bourdelais seated before a counter. 

"Ah ! good morning ! " replied that lady, extending 
her hand to her two friends. "Yes, I came to see 
what was to be seen here to-day." 

"Is it not wonderful? Was there ever such a 
display? And have you seen the Eastern salon f^^ 

" Extraordinary ! " 

But under all this half-affected enthusiasm, Madame 
Bourdelais retained her self-possession and never lost 
her clear head. She carefully examined the piece of 
^^ Paris Bonheur^^ which was shown to her, for she 
had come to the establishment to purchase a costume 
from this silk, if on seeing it she concluded it to be 
really a bargain. She was pleased, for she at once asked 
for thirty yards, thinking with this amount she could 
make a dress for herslf and a paletot for her little girl. 

" Are you going already ? " asked Madame Desforges 
" Can't you go about a little with us ? " 

"No, thanks, I am needed at home. I did not dare 
bring any of the children into this crowd." 

And she went off, preceded by the salesman, who 
took her and her thirty yards of silk to Cashier No. 
10, where young Albert had lost his head amid the 
demands made upon his arithmetical abilities. When 
the salesman could approach the desk, he made a note 
of the sale on his book, and the cashier inscribed it on 
his Register, and the leaf, detached from the book was 
placed on a sharp point of metal standing on the desk. ^ 


" One hundred and forty francs," said Albert. 

Madame BourdeLiis paid and gave her address, for 
she was on foot. Behind the cashier's desk was Joseph, 
already placing the silk in paper; when this was done, 
it was placed in a large basket with other bundles, and 
sent to the lower floor through the slide. 

The pressure, meanwhile, was so great at the silk 
counter, that Madame Desforges and Madame Marly 
could not for some time find a clerk at liberty to wait 
on them. 

It was evident that the " Paris Bonheur " was an 
immense success — one of those sudden fancies had 
been aroused which so often settles a fashion. All 
the salesmen were busy measuring off this silk with 
a great rustle, while the click of scissors and the 
peculiar sound they made as they cut the material, 
rose above all the voices. 

"It is certainly very good for five francs sixty," 
said Madame Desforges, who had finally succeded in 
getting hold of a piece. 

Madame Marl}^ and her daughter were suddenly dis- 
enchanted. The newspapers had said so much about 
this silk, that they expected something much heavier 
and more lustrous. 

But Bouthemont had recognized Madame Desforges, 
and in order to pay his court to a lady who was 
believed to be all-powerful with his employer, 
advanced with his somewhat vulgar smile. 

No one waiting upon her! Such negligence was 
unpardonable! She must really be a little indulgent, 
for there was so much to be done. As he spoke he 


looked for a chair and laughed ; his somewhat familiar 
manner did not seem to displease Henriette. 

" Look at Bouthemont I " said Favier, as h^ took 
down a box of velvets from behind Huten. 

Huten had forgotten Madame Desforges — he had 
lost his temper entirely over an old lady who kept 
him a quarter of an hour, and ended by buying a yard 
and a quarter of satin. When there was a great 
crowd, regular succession in the order of the clerks 
was impossible, of course, and he was about waiting 
on Madame Bontarel, who, after spending three hours 
in the morning at the Bonheur^ had returned in the 
afterno.on, when Favier spoke. 

Huten started — he was determined to say something 
to this lady, who was his employer's friend. And 
then, too, he had sold almost nothing all day. 

Bouthemont, at this moment said, loudly: 

•' This way, gentlemen. Some one is needed here ! " 

Huten at once passed Madame Bontarel over to 
Robineau, who happened to be unoccupied. 

"This gentleman," he said to Madame Bontarel, 
*' will wait upon you better than I." And he hastened 
away. His usual delicate intuition seemed to have 
deserted him entirely that day, for usually whenever 
he looked at a customer he seemed to know what 
she would buy, and how much. He hurried his cus- 
tomers and knew better than themselves what they 

He bowed low before Madame Desforges, and said, 
in his blandest tone : 

** What kind of silk shall I show you, Madame ^'h[e 


Madame Desforges had scarcely opened her lips, 
when he went on-^ 

*'I know, I have precisely what you required" 

When the piece of ^^ Paris Bonheur^' was unfolded 
on a corner of the counter^ Madame Marly and her 
daughter came up. Huten was a little distracted, for 
he saw thaj; the last lady would probably be the 

A few words were exchanged ; Madame Desforges 
was advising her friend. 

** Ah ! of course," she said, "you can't expect silk at 
five francs sixty to be equal to silk at fifteen, or even 
at ten." 

'*It is certainly thin," answered Madame Marly, 
"and I greatly fear it has not body enough for a 

This remark enabled the clerk to interfere; he 
smiled, and with the exaggerated courtesy of a man 
who is never mistaken, said : 

"But, Madame, softness is the especial quality of 
this silk. It never tumbles. It is, in fact, precisely 
what you require." 

Impressed by his assurance, these ladies said no 
more. They took up the silk and examined it again. 
Suddenly they found themselves pulled by the sleeve. 
It was Madame Guibal, who, for an hour, had been 
roaming through the shop, feasting her eyes on all the 
deliglitful things it contained, but without buying a 
yard of calico — and there was another outburst of 

" What ! is it you ? " Digitized by C^OOgle 

152 THE "bonheur des dames. 


n9 ' 

" Yes, it is I ! Was there ever such a crowd ? ' 

"Never. Have you seen the Eastern salon? ^* 


" Such a success ! Wait a moment here and we will 
go up stairs together." 

" No thanks, I have just come from there." 

Huten waited, concealing his impatience under his 
habitual smile. How long did they propose to detain 
him ? They were literally stealing his money just as 
much as if they put their hands into his pocket. 
Madame Guibal finally went off, continuing her slow 

" If I were in your place, I should buy my mantle 
ready made," said Madame Desforges, returning to 
the ^^ Paris Bonheur'' "It will really be more 

" With the trimmings and the making," murmured 
Madame Marly. " Then too, one has a better choice." 

The three ladies turned away and Madame Desforges 
addressing Huten, said : "Will you show us where to 
find cloaks and mantles?" 

Huten was positively stunned, for he was not accus- 
tomed to such defeats. What ! the brunette did not 
mean to buy anything ? Had his usual acuteness fled 
forever? He abandoned Madame Marly entirely and 
devoted himself to Henriette. It was with his most 
enticing manner that he said : 

"Can I not show you oar satins, our velvets? We 
have some extraordinary bargains." 

" Thanks, another time," she answered, not looking 

at him. Digitized by CjOOgle 


Huten was obliged to show the ladies to the cloak 
department, and in doing so sufTered agonies in seeing 
Robineau measuring off a huge quantity of silk for 
Madame Bontarel. 

It was plain that he would not make four sous that 
day, and in a voice of suppressed rage, though still with 
a smile, he said at the stairs : 

" The next floor, ladies." 

But to ascend the stairs was a work of time and 
diflBculty, for the crowd had become positively fearful 
and the run on the " Paris Bonheur^'^ employed every 
available clerk. 

Henriette was positively frightened, but looking 
up she beheld Mouret at the top of the stairs. If he 
left this position it was only to return to it, for it was 
here that he realized his victory most fully. She 
smiled up to him, hoping that he would come down and 
assist her. But he could not distinguish her face in 
the surging mass below, and was besides busy in show- 
ing Vallegnose the different parts of the establishment. 
The heat had become intense and the noise witliin 
drowned all the noise without ; there was the rattle of^ 
gold and silver at the cashier's desk, the same words 
continually repeated, the rustle of paper as the pack- 
ages were done up and the dull thud as they were 
thrown into the slide. 

The whole scene seemed moreover to be vailed in 
mist, for a fine dust filled the shop, a gleam of sunshine 
came in at the window on the Rue Neuve-Saint-Augus- 
tin, and was like a golden arrow seen through a snow 
storm. In front of the glove counter was a struggling^ 

154 THE "bonheur des dames." 

crowd of human beings ; no toilette was distinguishable. 
A few hats worn by men made dark spots, and the 
faces of the women were colorless from fatigue and 
heat, and assumed something of the transparency of a 

Finally, thanks to his vigorous elbows, Huten opened 
a path for the ladies, but when Henriette reached the 
top of the stairs MT)uret had vanished with Vallegnose. 

"Turn to your left, ladies," Huten had said. 

Above stairs the crowd was equally great, the shawl 
and fur rooms were impassable, and as the ladies went 
through the lace department they saw Madame Boves 
with her daughter H^loise, bending over the articles 
Deloche was showing them. 

" Good morning, I was thinking of you." 

" And I was looking for you, but of course it was 
foolish to expect to find you in a crowd like this I " 

" Magnificent, is it not ? " 

" Dazzling, my dear, perfectly dazzling ! " 

" You are buying, I see." 

" No, only looking at things. It rests us to find seats 

In fact Madame de Boves who had in her pocket 
only money enough to pay for her carriage, had been 
shown all sorts of laces merely that she might enjoy 
the pleasure of looking at and touching them. She 
instantly knew that Deloche was inexperienced and 
awkward, and would never rebel against the caprices 
of his customers; she therefore took advantfvge of his 
timid complaisance and had kept him waiting upon her 
for a full half hour. She fingered the laces, pluugid 


bcr hands into the masses of Chantilly and Valen- 
ciennes, her eyes filled with envy and longing, while 
Blanche, young as she was, was pale with the same 
emotion. Meanwhile the conversation continued; 
Huten could have slapped the ladies as he stood there 
awaiting their good pleasure. 

" Ah ! " said Madame Marly, " you are looking at 
those cravats and handkerchiefs like those I showed 
you the other day." 

It was true, for Madame de Boves had been tor- 
mented by the laces of Madame Marly ever since 
Saturday, and could not resist coming to the Bonheur^ 
although her husband's poverty prevented her from 
taking any of its treasures away with her. 

She colored slightly and said that Blanche wanted 
one of the Spanish lace cravats. Then she added: 

'* You are going to the cloak room ? Have you seen 
the Eastern salon f " 

" Yes ; superb, is it not ? " 

They separated at last, and Deloche, glad to be occu- 
pied, brought out another box of lace to show to the 
mother and daughter. 

All this time. Inspector Jouve was marching up 
and down with his fierce moustache and military air, 
proudly wearing a decoration on his breast, and mount- 
ing guard over this precious and delicate merchandise 
which could be so easily concealed under a cloak or in» 
a sleeve. When he passed Madame de Boves, he was 
surpiised to see her with both hands plunged into a 
pile of rich lace, and he made up his mind to see what 
she was about. Digitized by CjOOgle 


"To the right, ladies," said Huten, resuming his 
slow progress. 

He with difl&culty kept his temper. Was it not 
enough for him to lose all sales below, but now they 
must stop at every counter in the shop. 

^* Miss Clara I " said Huten, in an angry tone, as 
soon as he was fairly within the cloak department. 

But she did not hear him, for she was busy with a 
customer. The room was full : a long procession of 
people came in and went out, either into the lace room 
or into the lingerie department opposite. Ladies were 
trying on garments in front of the long mirrors. The 
soft carpet deadened every fo6tfall, and the noise from 
the shop below reached this comparatively secluded 
place merely in the form of a distant murmur. 

" Miss Marguerite ! " cried Huten, and as she did 
not stop any more than Miss Clara had done, he 
muttered between his teeth, taking care, however, 
that he was not heard : 

"Confounded fools!" 

He was in a wretched mood. In the first place he 
was tired, and then he w^s greatly galled by being 
detained in this way and so losing every chance of 
making money down stairs. And he was furious at 
being required to bring to these women in the cloak 
room, no one of whom he liked, customers who would 
put money in their pockets. There was a constant 
warfare kept up between these women and himself — in 
their mutual desire for gain, the difference of sex wai 
lost sight of. 

"Is there nobody here?" asked Huten^ed by Google 


Then suddenly seeing Denise, he ran to her, crying: 
** Please attend to these ladies at once." 

Denise had done nothing all day but fold and unfold . 
various mantles and cloaks, and was now occupied in 
replacing an enormous pile in the wardrobes where 
they belonged. 

As soon as Huten had gotten rid of the ladies he 
had brought up stairs, his smiles returned, and with 
them a sarcastic expression at the idea of the embar- 
rassment he had caused both the ladies and young girl 
whose inexperience he overrated. 

Denise, in the meantime, was greatly moved by this 
unexpected stroke of good luck. For the second time 
he appeared to her like an unknown benefactor — 
fraternal and kind, always ready to come to her assist- 
ance. Her eyes were dewy with gratitude. She 
followed him with a long, lingering gaze, while he 
elbowed his way through the crowd, struggling to 
return to his counter with all possible speed. 

" I should like to see some cloaks," said Madame 

Then Denise asked what style of mantle she wanted, 
but the lady could not tell her. She had no idea, and 
the young girl, weary and bewildered, lost her head. 
She did not yet know where to find the various styles, 
and she stood hesitating when Madame Aur^lie sud- 
denly appeared. She had seen Madame Desforges 
from a distance, and knowing the liaison between tl)at 
lady and Mouret* hurried across the room to serve her. 

" Is any one waiting on you, ladies ? " she asked. 

"Yes, this young lady is trying to ^M^b^MiOgA^ 

158 THE "bonheue des dames." 

want, but she does not seem to know precisely what 
to do." 

The forewoman paralyzed Denise by saying to 
her in a low voice: 

"You see that every one realizes your ignorance. 
Keep still, I beg of you." 

Then calling : 

" Miss Marguerite, bring a mantle here." 

Madame Aur^lie remained while Marguerite showed 
the various styles. This girl was always as super- 
cilious and offensive in her manner as she dared to be, 
and now when she heard Madame Marly say that she 
did not wish to give over two hundred francs, she 
looked utterly disdainful. 

" Oh ! it would be impossible to find anything in the 
least degree suitable for two hundred francs." 

And she tossed on the counter a pile of very ordi- 
nary mantles, with a gesture that spoke volumes. 

Madame Marly did not venture to approve of any. 
She turned to Madame Desforges and whispered in 
her ear: 

" Don't you prefer to be waited upon by men ? ' 

Finally Marguerite brought a mantle trimmed with 
jet, which she treated with respect. And Madame 
Aurdlie called to Denise : 

" Come here and make yourself useful. Put this on." 

Denise, miserable and disconsolate, convinced that 
she w^ould never succeed in this house, was standing 
leaning against the wall in a helpless attitude. She 
would be sent away she knew very well, and the boys 
would starve. The noise and confusion had made her 


head ache, and her arms were weary with the task she 
had performed all day long in carrying these heavy 
loads to and fro. She obeyed this peremptory sum- 
mons, and allowed Marguerite to drape the mantle 
over her as over a wire form. 

" Stand up straight," said Madame Aurdlie. 

But presently tlie mantle and Denise were forgotten, 
for Mouret entered with Vallegnose and Bourdoucle, 
and received the compliments of these ladies on his 
magnificent exhibition. The Eastern salon was highly 
praised. Vallegnose expressed more surprise than 
admiration. As for Bourdoucle, he seemed to forget 
that he had any personal interest in the establishment, 
and congratulated Mouret warmly, hoping to obliterate 
the memory of the morning's misgivings. 

" Yes, I am greatly pleased," answered Mouret, radi- 
ant, replying by a smile to Henriette's tender glances. 
"But pray do not let me intrude upon you, ladiey." 

Then everybody turned again to Denise. She 
yielded to Marguerite's hands and was slowly timed 

"What do you think of it?" asked Madame Ms.rly of 
Madame Desforges, whom she regarded as the high 
priestess of fashion. 

" It is not J^ad, and the cut is original. But I do not 
think it fits well on the shoulders." 

" Oh ! " exclaimed Madame Aur^lie, "you must see it 
on Madame herself. You see it has no eifect upon this 
young lady, who does not carry herself well. Pray 
straighten your back a little and give the mantle the 
importance it deserves." Digitized by CjOOglC 


There was a general smile. Denise had become 
deadly pale. She was overwhelmed with shame at being 
thus transformed into a machine to be examined and 
commented on thus freely. Madame Desforges, yield- 
ing to an instinctive antipathy, and provoked at the 
gentle sweetness of the girl's face, added maliciously: 

" It would fit better if the young lady's dress was 
not quite so large." 

As she said this she gave Mouret a mocking glance — 
the glance of a true Parisian who is amused by a pro- 
vincial. He felt the silent caress of this glance, and 
the triumph of the woman who is happy in her beauty 
and her art. He, of course, in his gi-atitude at being 
adored, felt it his duty to laugh in his turn in spite of 
the kindliness he felt toward Denise, whose secret 
charm his gallant nature more than suspected. 

" A little of the material could certainly be spared," 
he said. 

This was the crowning touch. The directors laughed 
as did all the saleswomen. Marguerite turned away to 
conceal her merriment, Clara had thrown aside a cus- 
tomer to join the group, and several of the girls from 
the lingerie counter had come in. As to the ladies, 
they were quietly amused. Madame Aur^lie never 
smiled. Her imperial brow was contracted with a 
frown. She did not choose that a girl in her depart- 
ment should be held up to ridicule. 

Denise instinctively felt that Madame Desforges and 
Mouret were united by a common tie, and her heart 
was stung by a new misfortune when she heard them 
join in a laugh against her. This lady was very s^gjfl, 


she thought, to treat a poor girl in this way, and 
Mouret himself froze her as usual with fear. This 
feeling she did not attempt to analyze. A keen sense 
of injustice brought tears to her eyes, and it was 
with difl&culty that she restrained her tears and 
choking sobs. 

"It is too much I "said Madame Aur^lie to Bour- 
doucle, the terrible Bourdoucle who had at the begin* 
ning felt and shown utter contempt for the young girl. 

And as the forewoman lifted the mantle from the 
shoulders of Denise, she said in a low voice : 

"Well! Mademoiselle, you have disgraced yourself! 
Upon my word, had you tried to show what you could 
do — I No one could be sillier." 

Denise, fearing that she could not restrain her tears 
longer, hurried back to the pile of garments which she 
had been classifying at the counter. There at least she 
was out of the way, and fatigue prevented her from 
thinking. Suddenly she perceived at her side Pauline, 
the saleswoman in the lingerie room, the one who in 
the morning had taken up the cudgels in her defense. 

Pauline whispered in her ear : 

" My poor child, do not be so sensitive. I tell you I 
know what I am saying. I come from Chartres, my 
name is Pauline Cugnat, and my father is a carpenter. 
When I first came here I felt that I must get away, 
that I could not stay, I was so worried by their treat- 
ment of me. Courage then ! Give me your hand and 
we will have a long talk together whenever you say 
the word." 

ThQ touch of the girl's hand redoubled the emotion^e 

162 THB "bonheur des dames." 

of Denise. She pressed it secretly and hastily lifted an 
armful, a pile of garments, fearing that she was doing 
wrong in some way and would certainly be scolded. 

In the meantime, Madame Aur^lie herself placed the 
mantle on Madame Marly's shoulders, and everyone 
exclaimed : 

" Oh ! oh ! superb and graceful ! What a differ- 
ence." Madame Desforges decided that nothing could 
be better. Mouret departed, while Vallegnose, who 
had seen Madame de Boves and her daughter among 
the laces, hastened to offer his arm to the mother* 
Marguerite, standing at one of the cashier's desks was 
enumerating the various purchases of Madame Marly, 
who paid and ordered the package to be placed in her 
carriage at the door. Madame Desforges found all her 
purchases at the cashier's desk No. 10. Then the 
ladies met again in the Eastern salon^ where there was 
another outburst of enthusiasm. Madame Guibal herself 
warmed up. 

" Oh ! delicious, wonderful ! " 

"Is it not? And how cheap the things are." 

" Look at that Smyrna rug, was there ever anything 
softer in tint?" 

"And look at that Kurdestan." 

The crowd now began steadily to diminish. A bell 
at an hour's interval had rung for the two first dinners, 
the table was nearly ready for the third, and only a 
few customers lingered at the different counters, and 
they seemed to forget the lateness of the hour. The 
whole shop was in wild confusion, looking under the 
brilliant light of the gas as if a hurricane had passfd 


over it. The clerks were utterly fatigued. At the 
glove counter there was a pile of empty boxes, and 
the woolen room was absolutely impassable. Above- 
stairs the confusion and disorder was even greater : 
furs lay on the floor, cloaks and mantles looked as if 
they had been flung aside in some sudden terror. 

Below, in the basement, the work was going on with 
unabated activity, for all the packages were to be sent 
out that night. But the silk department was, so to 
speak, in ruins; the Paris Bonheur had been swept 
away as by a swarm of locusts. 

Huten and Favier stood looking over their books, 
calculating their percentage on their sales. Favier had 
made fifteen francs, Huten only thirteen, and he was 
cursing his ill-luck. Their eyes glittered with cupidity, 
and with the same feverish thirst for gain that actuated 
the whole house. 

" Well ! Bourdoucle," cried Mouret, " do you still 
tremble ? " 

. He had returned to his favorite position at the head 
of the stairs, and stood leaning against the railing, 
smiling a victorious smile upon the scene of ruin 
and devastation below. His momentary fears of the 
morning were a secret in his own breast, no one would 
ever know his unpardonable weakness. The battle was 
won — the pett^' trade of the Quartier forever ruined, 
and the Baron Hartmann was conquered with his 
millions and his real estate. While he watched the 
cashiers bending over their desks, and heard the 
rattle of the gold as they counted it, he saw the Barir 
heur des Dames immeasurably extended — his galleries 

Digitized by VjOOQiC 


and halls stretching out as far as the Hue du Dix- 

"You must admit now, Bourdoucle, that this house 
is too small. It ought to be twice as large." 

Bourdoucle was humiliated and at the same time 
overjoyed at being in the wrong. But they both becan^ 
suddenly grave. L'Homme, the first cashier, had as 
usual received all the money taken at the desks of the 
assistant cashiers. After adding these together, he 
wrote down the total receipts and fastened the paper 
to his steel point. This being done, he bore the cash 
in a portfolio or in bags to the great safe. 

On this day, gold and silver predominated, and he 
slowly mounted the staircase carrying three enormous 
bags pressed against his breast by his left arm, for as 
we have before stated, his right had been amputa- 
ted at the shoulder. He was obliged to use his chin 
to help support these bags, and prevent them from 
slipping. His labored breathing was heard at some 
distance ; he passed the respectful crowd of clerks with 

"How much, L'Homme?" asked Mouret. 

The cashier replied : 

"Eighty thousand, seven hundred and forty-two 
francs, ten centimes." 

A joyous shout ran through the Bonheur des Damee. 
The cipher was amazing and the largest that any house 
of the kind had ever taken in any one day. 

This night, when Denise crawled up to bed, she 
suppiorted herself against the walls of the narrow 
corridor. In her room, when the door was looked, she 

Digitized by CjOOQIC 

THE "bonheur des dame«/* 165 

threw herself on her bed, so cruelly did she suffer from 
the pain in her feet. She lay looking some time at the 
dressing-table, the wardrobe and the strange, bare 
walls. Was it here that she was to live ? And were 
the days to come, to be like this that had just van- 
ished ? She would never have courage to endure such 
a life. Then she noticed that she was clad in silk. 
This uniform oppressed her, and she felt a childish 
longing to put on her old woolen dress that lay on the 
chair. When she put it on, the sobs that she had kept 
back all day nearly choked her, and the tears came fast 
and hot. She had thrown herself again on the bed 
and wept at the thought of the two children, and con- 
tinued to weep without having strength to undress, 
though she was so utterly worn out by fatigue and 

Denise, the next morning, had hardly been in the 
cloak room a half hour, when Madame Aur^lie said in 
her curt way : 

" Mademoiselle, you are wanted in the oflSce." 

The young girl found Mouret alone, seated in his 
office, with its hangings of green rep. He had sud- 
denly remembered the occurrences of the day before, 
and though as a rule he , allowed others to find fault 
rather than himself, he determined on this occasion to 
make the little provincial see that she must dress with 
more care, for he had been greatly annoyed — his vanity 
had, in fact, been wounded in the presence of Madame 
Desforges, by seeing one of his saleswomen ridiculed. 
He felt, in short, both angry and compassionate. Qole 

"Mademoiselle," he began, "we took you here, (rat 

166 THE "bonheur des dames." 

of regard for your uncle, and you should not expose 
us to the disagreeable necessity — " 

Here he stopped. Opposite his desk stood Denise, 
erect, serious and pale. Her black silk dress was no 
longer too large ; on the contrary it fitted her rounded 
waist and her beautiful shoulders to perfection, and if 
her hair, massed together in heavy braids, was not ele- 
gantly dressed, it was at least smooth and neat. After 
falling asleep, exhausted with weeping, all dressed as 
she was, the young girl awaking at dawn had been 
ashamed of her nervous susceptibility, and at once 
went to work to make her dress smaller. When this 
task was successfully accomplished, she passed an hour 
before her small mirror, endeavoring to arrange her 
hair as she believed would be approved of by Madame 

" Ah ! Thank heaven ! " murmured Mouret. " You 
look much better this morning; only there are still a 
few stray locks." 

He >arose and began to arrange her, hair with the 
same fiimiliar -gesture that Madame Aur^lie had em- 
ployed the previous day, when she made the same 

" This should go behind the ear," he said, " and the 
chignon is too high ! " 

She did not speak, she allowed him to do as he 
pleased. She had entered the office with the firm con- 
viction that she was to receive her dismissal, and the 
kind tone and manner of Mouret did not reassure her; 
i>he continued to feel that vague dread and uneasi- 
ness which she explained to herself as very natural 


before this powerful man, on whom her destiny 
depended. When he saw that she trembled under 
his touch he regretted his good nature, for he feared 
above all things to compromise his authority. 

" The fact is," he said as he returned to his desk, 
" you must be more careful in regard to your appear- 
ance. You are no longer at Valognes, you must study 
and imitate our Parisians. Your uncle's name was 
enough to induce us to open our house to you, but I 
trust you will exert yourself to perform what your face 
seems to promise. The trouble is, that the rest of the 
people here do not seem to agree with me. You see 
how it is, don't let them think that I have made a 

He treated her as if she had been a child, with more 
pity than kindness, and with a certain curiosity to 
see what could be made of this poor awkward child. 
She, while he lectured her, happened to glance up at 
the portrait of Madame Hedouin, whose handsome face 
smiled gently down upon her from the gilt frame, and 
she shivered from head to foot in spite of the encour- 
aging words that he uttered. It was the dead lady she 
thought, the wife whom the quartier accused him of 
killing, in order that he might use her money as he 

Mouret cantinued to speak. 

"You can go," he said at last as he took up his pen. 

She went away. And when the door closed behind 
her she drew a sigh of relief. 

From this day Denise showed the greatest possible 
courage. In spite of the tears shed in secret, in spile 


of many pangs as she thought of herself aloni& ani 
friendless, she carried a brave, and even a gay face, 
while she performed all of her duties steadily. She was 
very quiet, and went on her way, turning neither to the 
right nor the left, she was always gentle and amiable, 
for this was her nature: her slender childish hands 
acquired new strength, and her smiling face was un- 
moved by the anger she aroused in her companions. 

She learned to endure the terrible fatigue of her 
duties; the piles of clothing she carried to and fro 
strained the muscles of her arms so severely that for 
the first six weeks she groaned each time she turned in 
her sleep at night. But she suffered still more from 
her shoes, the heavy shoes she had brought from Va- 
lognes, which the lack of money prevented her from 
replacing by light boots. Always standing from morn- 
ing until night, and scolded if she were seen leaning 
for a moment against the wall, her feet were swollen — 
those little feet which were like those of a child, and 
the soles were covered with blisters ; her whole frame 
and system suffered and yet she, delicate and fragile as 
she looked, bore up under that to which so many sales- 
women have succumbed, continuing to smile although 
nearly worn out by what few men could have endured. 

Her greatest trouble was that all the other women 
in the cloak department were against her. To the 
physical martyrdom was added the continual persecu- 
tion of her comrades. After two months of patience 
and gentleness she had not yet disarmed them. There 
were cruel words, bitter words, which struck her to 
the heart when she most felt the need of tendernestl^ 


She had heard many sharp words about her unfor- 
tunate dSbxity and she was called "stupid" from one 
end of her room to the other. 

When finally she was discovered to be a remarkable 
saleswoman and showed a wonderful quickness in mas- 
tering the business details of the day, there was an 
interval of indignant stupor, and from that moment 
her companions so successfully manoeuvred that they 
robbed her of every important customer. Marguerite 
and Clara pursued her with an instinctive hatred, 
and even became friendly toward each other, in their 
hatred of the new comer, whom they feared in spite of 
their affected disdain. 

' Madame Aur^lie was herself woundted by the proud 
reserve of this young girl who did not hover around 
her with an air of enthusiastic admiration, and conse- 
ujuently abandoned Denise to the jealousy and envy of 
the little court who fed the forewoman with perpetual 
flattery. Madame Frederic for a time seemed to hold 
herself aloof from the plot, but this was probably mere 
inadvertence, for she became as disagreeable as the 
others as soon as she found where her good manners 
were leading her. 

Finally Denise saw herself shunned by all, and it 
was with the greatest difficulty that she maintained 
her resolution to remain in her situation. 

Such was her life. She smiled graciously and pret- 
tily, wearing the silken dress that was not her own ; 
she was dying of fatigue, ill-fed and ilRreated. Her 
bed-room was her only refuge, the only place where 
she could abandon herself to her tears after a lor^ 


day of suffering. But her room was appallingly cold 
from the snow that lay thick on the zinc roof in these 
bleak December days ; she shivered in her little iron 
bed under all her clothing, and pulled the blanket over 
her face that her tears might not freeze on her cheeks. 

Moiiret now never spoke to her, and when she 
encountered the severe eyes of Bourdoucle she 
trembled from head to foot — for she felt an innate 
conviction that in him she had a natural enemy, who 
would never forgive the smallest error in her. 

And amid this general hostility she was amazed to 
find that Inspector Jouve was disposed to treat her 
with especial kindness. Whenever she met him he 
smiled upon her and said a few amiable words ; twice 
he had saved her from reprimands, but she was more 
disturbed than grateful. 

One evening, after dinner, when the saleswomen 
were putting the wardrobe in order, Joseph came to 
tell Denise that a young man was inquiring for her. 
She hurried down stairs in some perturbation. 

"Ah ! " said Clara, " our country friend has a lover, 

" I doubt it ! " answered Marguerite. 

Denise found her brother Jean waiting for her near 
the door. She had distinctly forbidden his presenting 
himself in the shop in this way, but she did not ven- 
ture to scold him, although he was out of breath and 
wore no cap. It was plain that he had run all the 
way from the Faubourg du Temple. 

" Have you ten francs ? " he gasped. " Give me ten 
francs* or I am a ruined man ! " Digitized by CjOOgle 


This tall boy, with his blonde hair all blown in the 
wind, was so droll with his girlish face as he uttered 
this melo-dramatic phrase, that she would have smiled 
but for the anguish into which she was thrown by 
this demand for money. 

" Ten francs I " she murmured, " what do you want 
them for?" 

He colored, and explained that he had met the sister 
of one of his comrades. Denise silenced him here by 
her own embarrassment. He had come twice before 
on smaller errands, but for smaller sums, the first time 
for twenty-five cents, and the second for thirty, and* 
there was always some woman involved. 

"I cannot give you ten francs," she said. "Pdp^'s 
month is not yet paid, and I have only that money 
and a little more — enough to buy myself some boots, 
of which I stand in great need. You really, Jean, are 
very unreasonable, and I thinkit unkind." 

"lam lost, then !" he cried, with a tragic gesture. 
" Listen, little sister. She is a tall brunette. I have 
been to the caf6 with her brother and herself, and I 
had no idea that the little bill — " 

She saw tears in the boy's eyes, and hastily pulled 
out her porte-monnai6, and taking from it a two dollar 
note, slipped it into his hand. Then instantly he 
began to laugh. 

"I knew you would help me ! " he cried, "and never 
again will I come to you for money. I swear it." 

And he dashed off, after kissing her like a madman, 
at which sight all the shop was stunned. 

That night Denise did not sleep. Sh^^^ 

172 THE "bonheur de» dames." 

tirnial carking anxiety about money, for as yet she had 
no fixed salary, and as her fellow-salesworaen prevented 
her from waiting on customers whenever it was in their 
power to do so, she had only succeeded in making 
enough money to pay Pdp^'s board. It was utter 
poverty and destitution hidden under her robe of silk. 
She often passed the whole night darning her chemises 
as carefully as if they had been rare lace. She sewed 
patches on her shoes as skilfully as a shoemaker could 
have done ; she did her washing in the basin. But her 
old woolen dress gave her an infinite deal of thought ; 
she had no other, and yet was obliged to put it on 
every evening when she took off her silk uniform. A 
rent in it was therefore a catastrophe — a spot cost her 
a tear. She had not one sou to buy the many little 
things of which a woman stands in need. She had 
been obliged to wait a fortnight before she could 
renew her supply of needles and cottons. What, 
then, must have been her sensations when Jean, with 
his foolish love stories, swooped down upon her and 
carried off so much of her little hoard ? The loss of 
a twenty cent piece created a vacuum which it was 
difficult for her to fill up. Where was she to obtain 
ten francs the next day ? It was useless to dream of 
it for a moment. 

All that night she tossed and turned, her broken 
slumbers haunted by night-mares. She dreamed of 
P^p^ thrust out of doors, and of herself digging up 
the paving stones of the street with bleeding fingers, 
persuaded that she should find money under them. 
And when morning came she was obliged to smile and 


move about in her silk dress as if she had not a care 
in the world. Madame Aur^lie called her several 
times to try on some mantles, that favored customers 
might admire a novel style or cut. And while she 
stood like a fashion-plate she v^as thinking of tbe 
forty fi-ancs due for P6p6's board, virhich she had 
promised to pay that evening. She could buy no 
boots that month, at all events; but even adding 
this amount to the thirty francs she already had, only 
made thirty-four, and where on earth w^as she to get 
the six francs she needed to make up the sum due for 
l?6p6 ? Her heart was heavy with anguish. 

" Notice how easy the fit is over the shoulders," 
said Madame Aur^lie. " It is very stylish, and at the 
same time very comfortable ; the young lady can fold 
her arms perfectly well." 

"Yes, indeed," added Denise, politely, "it binds 
nowhere. I am sure you would like it, Madame." 

Denise, as she spoke, was reproaching herself for 
having taken F6p6 out the previous Sunday. The 
poor child had so few pleasures. But she had bought 
him some gingerbread and a little shovel, and had 
taken him into Guignol's; all of which amounted to 
twenty-nine sous. Why could not Jean think of the 
child when he was tempted to commit follies? Why 
should she bear everything ? " 

"Perhaps," said the forewoman, "you would like a 
circular better. Have the kindness. Mademoiselle, to 
put on the circular, so that Madame can judge." 

And Denise walked up and down, drawing the 
circular around her slender form, saying: zedbyCjOOgle 


" It is warmer, and it is the latest fashion." 
All that day, under the smiling suavity which was 
part of her duties, she tortured herself to know where 
to find the money which she needed so sorely. The 
other saleswomen were momentarily off their guard, 
and allowed her to make an important sale; but it 
was only Tuesday, and she could receive no percentage 
until the end of the week. After dinner she decided to 
postpone until the next day her visit to Madame Gras. 
She would apologize, and say she had been detained, 
and perhaps then she would have the six francs. 

As Denise avoided the smallest expenditure she was 
in the habit of retiring at a very early hour. What could 
she do in the streets without a penny and in a con- 
stant state of terror at the vastness of the city of which 
she knew nothing, except the streets close to the shop 
where she was employed ? After venturing as far as 
the Palais Royal, merely for air and exercise, she 
hurried back and busied herself with sewing or with 
some necessary washing. She had no friend. Of all 
the shop girls only one, Pauline, showed her the smallest 
kindness, and as the two departments, that of the con- 
fectiona^ and that of the lingerie^ were on anything but 
good terms, the sympathy of the two saleswomen, 
Denise and Pauline, was confined to the exchange of a 
few hurried words. Pauline, it is true, occupied a 
neighboring chamber, the one on the left of Denise ; but 
as she disappeared on leaving the table and did not 
return until eleven o'clock, the latter only heard her 
going to bed and never chanced to meet her outside of 
working hours. Denise, this evening of which we write, 


had again resigned herself to being a shoemaker : she ex- 
amined her shoes and wondered if in any way she could 
make them last another month. Then with a stout 
needle she began to sew the soles to the uppers, which 
threatened to part company. All this while a collar 
and cuffs were soaking in the wash basin. The clock 
had struck eleven, ten minutes since, when alight foot- 
fall made her lift her head quickly. It was one of the 
young ladies who had come in at this late hour again. 
She listened a moment and found that it was Pauline, 
for she heard her open the next door. But presently 
she was astonished beyond words, for Pauline returned 
to her door and knocked softly. 

" Make haste, it is I." 

The saleswomen were forbidden to visit each other 
in their rooms, therefore Denise hastened to turn the 
key that Madame Cabin, who was always on the watch 
for the smallest infringement of rules, might not catch 
her now. 

" Was she there ? " Denise added as she closed the 

"Who? Madame Cabin?" said Pauline. "Ah! it 
is not of her that I am afraid. Any one can buy her 
with a hundred sous ! " 

Then she added : 

" I saw your light, and as I have wished to talk to 
you, I determined to try to do so to-night. One never 
has a chance down stairs. Then too, you looked so sad 
this evening at the table." 

Denise thanked her and urged her to be seated, for 
she was touched by the girl's good nature. vrJiOgie 


excitement caused by this unexpected visit, she had 
not dropped the shoe she was sewing. Pauline saw it 
and shook her head; then, looking round, she per- 
ceived the sleeves and the collar in the basin. 

"My poor child," she said, "this is just what I 
expected. I know the whole story from sad experi- 
ence. When I first came from Chartres, and when 
my father never sent me a sou, I was in the habit of 
washing my chemises. As I had but two, one was 
always soaking." 

Pauline had seated herself, for she was quite out of 
breath from having run up the stairs. Her large face, 
with her small bright eyes and big mouth, had a cer- 
tain grace, in spite of the clumsiness of her features. 
And without the smallest introduction she began to 
narrate her story ; she told of her youth at the mill, 
of how her father was ruined by a law-suit, and how 
she was sent to Paris to make her fortune with 
twenty francs in her pocket. Then she described her 
first experience as a shop-girl in a shop at BatignoUes, 
then at the Bonheur dea Dames — a terrible experience, 
which had cost her much suffering and many priva- 
tions; and finally she told how she was now receiving 
two hundred francs monthly, and how she had many 
amusements, and how little she cared what was said 
or done during the day. 

A watch chain and a breast-pin glittered on her 
robe of dark blue cloth, fitting coquettishly to her 
round waist, and she smiled from under her velve* 
gray toque^ trimmed with a long plume. 

Denise flushed deeply as she stood with her sho# 


still in h^r hand.. She attempted to stammer an 

" I know all about it ! " answered Pauline. " And 
I am older than you, too ; I am twenty-six years and 
six months. I don't look it, do I? Tell me your 
story, now." 

Denise yielded to this frankly offered friendship. 
She huddled an old shawl about her shoulders and sat 
down next Pauline. The two girls embarked in a 
long talk. The room was chilly, for the cold seemed 
to creep in under the Mansard roof. They did not 
notice this, however, nor that their fingers were stiff. 
By degrees Denise became very confidential, spoke of 
F4p6 and Jean, and said how she was worried about 
money. Then they spoke of the saleswomen in the 
cloak department. 

Pauline exclaimed : 

" Oh ! I know their game — mean creatures that they 
areL If they behaved decently to you, you could 
make with ease more than one hundred francs." 

" They are all determined to prevent my doing any 
thing," answered Denise, half crying, "and I am sure 
I don't know wh}'. Then, too, Monsieur Bourdoucle 
watches me all the time, as if he wished to catch me 
in some crime. Father Jouve is the only one — " 

The other interrupted her. 

" That old monkey ! Ah ! my dear, don't trust him. 
Men with big noses like that, you know, should never 
be believed. He makes a great show with his decora- 
tion, but I know a story about him. You are a baby, 

11 -Digitized by CjOOgle 

178 THE "bonheur des dames/* 

though, to fret like this. It is a real misfortune to be 
so sensitive." 

Pauline seized her companion's hands and embraced 
her. The question of money was certainly a very 
grave one. A poor girl could not support her two 
brothers, pay the board of the younger, and treat the 
fair friends of the elder, only by picking up the unfre- 
quent sous for which others did not care to take any 
trouble. It was to be feared moreover that she would 
not be regularly appointed before the March quarter. 

" Listen to me, it is quite impossible that you can 
stand this state of things," said Pauline. " If I were 
in your place — " 

But a slight sound in the corridor here silenced her. 
She pressed her friend's hands and looked at her a 
moment in silence as she still listened. Then she 
resumed in very low tones. 

" If I were in your place, I should take some one." 

" How do you mean ? Take some one ? " repeated 
Denise, much puzzled. 

When at last she understood, she drew her hands 
away and sat as if stunned. This advice did not 
please her, she had never thought of such a thing and 
she could see no advantage in it. 

" Oh ! no," she said quietly. 

" Then," continued Pauline, " you will never be any 
better off, you may be sure of that. Figures can't lie. 
Forty francs for the little one, occasional silver pieces 
given to the big brother, come to considerable after a 
time. Then too, you cannot always go about in )'^our 
present state of destitution, weariiig shoes at which .ajl 

igi ize y g 


the shop women laugh. Yes, it is true, those shoes 
do you much harm. Take some one, it will be much 

" No," repeated Denise. 

" But you have no sense, my dear child ! Besides, it 
is not a matter of choice, I really do not see what else 
you can do ; I came here at first just as you have done, 
and had not one sou, I was lodged and fed to be 
sure, but there was my toilette, and one can't -live 
entirely without money, shut up in these four walls 
with nothing to do in the evening but count the flies 
on the ceiling." 

Then she went on to speak of her first lover, a 
lawyer's clerk, whom she had met at Mendon. After 
that there was an employ^ in the post-office, and finally 
in the autumn she had made the acquaintance of one 
of the salesmen in the Bon MarchS^ a very nice fellow, 
with whom she spent all her leisure hours. But she 
never had but one lover at a time, she would scorn such 
treachery, and then she spoke with contempt of women 
who threw themselves away. 

"I do not advise you to misconduct yourself," she 
said quickly, "you must see that. Now I would not 
be seen with your Clara, lest I should be accused of 
behaving as she does. But when a girl has only one 
lover and lives peaceably, I don't see why any one 
should reproach her. Does it seem such a shocking 
thing to you?" 

" No," answered Denise, " only I don't like it, that 
is all." 

There was a long Silence, the two girls finally smiled^ 



as they looked at each other in this little, chilly room. 
They were somewhat agitated by their conversation. 
Finally Denise spoke : 

" One must first feel a liking for some one," she 
said with her pale face flushing. 

Pauline was astonished, and then began to laugh, 
and embraced her friend warmly, saying as she did so : 

" But, child, you can meet some one so easily, and be 
pleased with him. How green you are ! Come now, 
shall Baugh take us next Sunday into the country? 
He can invite one of his friends, you know." 

'* No," said Denise, with gentle obstinacy. 

Pauline said no more. Every one was free to act 
her own pleasure, of course. She had spoken out of 
the goodness of the heart, for she was really affected at 
seeing a comrade so unhappy. And as midnight was 
about to strike, she rose to leave. But in the first 
place she compelled Denise to accept the six francs 
which she now required, and implored her not to 
hasten to return them, to do so at her convenience. 

"Now," she added, "you must put out your candle, 
so that no one can tell which door is opened ; you can 
light it again, you know." 

The two girls shook hands once more in the dark- 
ness, and Pauline glided away, leaving no sign of her 
recent presence, except the faint echo of her footsteps. 

Before going to bed, Denise wished to finish mend- 
ing her shoe and washing her collars. The cold be- 
came sharper as the night wore on. But she did not 
feel it, for the conversation had stirred the blood in 
her veins. She was not in the least shocked, for it 


seemed to her that when one is alone in the world, one 
had a right to arrange her life as she chooses. 

She had never exercised this right, as her common 
sense and healthy nature kept her in the straight and 
narrow path. 

About one o'clock she extinguished her light and 
laid down on her bed. No, she loved no one. What 
good would it do to disarrange her life and so mar the 
maternal devotion she had vowed to her two brothers. 
But she did not fall asleep, little shivers passed over 
her whole frame and indistinct forms flitted before 
her closed eyelids and faded awa}*^ in the darkness. 

From this moment Denise became greatly interested 
in the heart histories of her department. There was a 
great deal of gossip and several adventures of a some- 
what scandalous nature. Clara was a disgrace to the 
Bonheur ; she had three lovers, to say nothing of chance 
acquaintances, and if she did not leave the shop, where 
she really did very little, it was because she wished to 
protect herself from the suspicions of her family ; she 
lived in constant terror of her father, who swore that 
if she went wrong, he would come to Paris and kick 
her about the streets. 

Marguerite, on the contrary, behaved well — it was 
not known that "she had any lovers. Madame Frederic 
came in for her share of gossip ; it was said that she 
had some grand person for a lover, but the truth was that 
nothing was known of her affairs. She disappeared at 
night stiff and erect in her widow's weeds, and hurried 
away without any one being able to say where she 
went in such haste* The stories about Madame Aur^lic'" 

182 THE "bonheur des dames." 

and her retinue of obedient young men, were cer- 
tainly false, and probably invented by the saleswomen 
to whom she had been severe, in order to turn her 
into ridicule. Perhaps she might haye been too kind 
to some friend of her sons, in former days, but now 
she was a thorough business woman, who did not care 
to waste her time in such frivolities. 

When business hours were over, nine out of ten of 
these lovers were waiting at the door— on the Place 
Gaillon — along the Rue de la Michodi^re and the Rue 
Neuve-Saint-Augustin these men were scattered — and 
as the shop girls came along, each man extended his 
arm to his own friend, and the two walked away 
together, talking with conjugal serenity. 

But Denise was most disturbed at having discovered 
Colomban's secret. She saw him continually on the 
threshold of her uncle's shop, watching the young 
ladies in the cloak room. When he saw her, he colored 
and turned hastilj'^ away, as if he feared that the 
young girl would betray him to her cousin Genevieve, 
although there was very little intercourse between the 
Baudus and their niece since the entrance of the latter 
into the JBonheur dee Dames. 

Denise thought that Colomban was in love with 
Marguerite, but was thunderstruck to discover that 
the ardent regards of the clerk were really fixed upon 
Clara. For months he had been in this state without 
having courage to declare himself, and this for a girl 
who took a new lover every day ! Clara seemed to 
have no suspicion of her conquest. Denise was greatly 
troubled by her discovery. What was thia^toglaf 


which every one was talking? How could it be that a 
young fellow who had a happy life before him, could 
throw it away, to run after a worthless creature like 
tliis Clara ? Aud from this time her heart contracted 
with a dull pain whenever she beheld, behind the 
greenish glass, in the windows of her uncle's shop, the 
pale, sad face of her cousin Genevieve. 

Denise had her di*eams, too, in the evening, when she 
saw the shop girls walk away with their lovers. Those 
who slept at the BonJieur were compelled to be in their 
little attic rooms at eleven o'clock, unless they had 
obtained permission to go to the theatre ; the others 
vanished until the next day. And the young girl 
replied with a smile to the friendly nod given her by 
Pauline as she hurried away to join Baugh, who regu- 
larly waited for her near the Fountain on the Square. 

Denise was always the last to go out, and having 
taken her rapid, solitary walk, the first to come in. 
She then sewed, or went to bed with her head filled^ 
with dreams and devoured by curiosity in regard to 
this outside life of which she knew nothing. She was 
not jealous of these girls and she loved her solitude, 
in which she entrenched herself as a blessed refuge. 
But her imagination was all astir ; she heard of pleas- 
ures she had never known — of theatres and restaurants, 
of Sundays spent on the water and in the country. 
She felt a strange weariness when she thought of them ; 
it seemed to her sometimes that she was tired of these 
amusements which she had never tasted. But there 
was little time in her busy life for this dangerous 
dreaming. In the thirteen hours of daily toil, th^rd-' 

184 THE "bonheur des dames." 

was not much thought expended by either salesmen 
or saleswomen on each other. A few rare and iso- 
lated instances had taken place of love affairs in the 
Bonheur^ between the male and female ijlerks, but as a 
rule they were but the wheels of the great machine, 
abdicating all personality until they were without the 
doors of the great establishment. 

Denise nevertheless chanced to see Alfred L'Homme, 
the son of the fore1voman,.slip a note into the hand 
of one of the saleswomen in the lingerie department. 
He had passed through the room several times with an 
air of indifference, before finding an opportunity of 
delivering his tender epistle. 

It was now the dull season, which may be said to 
last from December to February, and Denise was, 
therefore, enabled to secure brief intervals of rest. 
She waited for customers with her thoughts far away. 
The saleswomen in the lingerie department exchanged 
eccasional jests with the clerks at the lace counter. 
Among these last, was a man who pursued Clara with 
coarse jokes, but did not find her sufficiently attractive 
to seek her outside of the establishment. Consequently 
there were significant glances and little giggles run- 
ning up and down the counters whenever that terrible 
Bourdoucle turned his back. As to Deloche, he con- 
tented himself for a lime with smiling whenever his 
eyes met those of Denise. After a while, however, he 
became bolder, and murmured a word or two when he 
passed her. The day she saw Madame Aur^lie's son 
give his note to the girl at the linen counter, Deloche 
had just asked her if she bad had a good breakfast. 


This question originated in a desire to be amiable. 
He saw the note delivered as well as Denise ; he looked 
at the girl, and both blushed at the thought of the 
intrigue going on under their eyes. 

But Denise, in spite of these incidents which occa- 
sionally stirred the woman within her, still kept her 
childlike peace of heart. Meeting Huten, as she did 
occasionally, brought the color to her face, but she 
believed it to be caused by gratitude, and thought she 
was simply touched by the young man's politeness. 
He never brought a customer to her department with- 
out causing her confusion, and she often, when sent to 
the cashier, took pains to go through the silk rooms. 
One afternoon she saw Mouret there, who greeted her 
with a smile, but did not speak to her. In fact he 
never addressed her nowadays, and never gave her 
any further advice as to her toilet. 

Denise trembled before this smile, and asked herself 
if he knew why she crossed the silk room, when she 
herself would have found it difficult to explain the 
reason of her doing so. 

Huten, however, did not seem to notice the grateful 
looks of the young girl. These shop-girls were not to 
his taste ; he affected to despise them, and boasted of 
his wonderful adventures with the customers at his 
counter. A Baroness had confessed herself his slave, 
and the wife of an architect one day when, he went to 
her in regard to an error in a purchase, had professed 
her willingness to fall into his arms. Like the rest 
of the clerks he was wild to make money, only to 
spend it on Sunday at the race-course and in restau*"^ 


rants. He never saved or laid up a sou — ^in fact, 
everything was spent before he received it, with 
absolute disregard for the future. 

Favier never made one of these parties. He and 
Huten, intimate as they were in the shop, bowed and 
parted outside of the door. Like many more of the 
clerks, they absolutely knew nothing of each other, 
except within the walls of the Bonheur. Huten's 
intimate associate was Li^nard. They both lived in the 
same Hotel — ^the HStel de Smyrne, Rue Sainte-Anne, 
a dark, dingy place, filled with clerks. In the morn- 
ing they arrived together, and at night the one who 
was first liberated when his counter was in order, went 
to wait for the other at the Caf^ Saint-Roch, a small 
place where the clerks of the Bonheur des Dames 
were in the habit of meeting to smoke and play cards. 
They often remained there so late that the landloi'd 
was obliged to put them out of doors. For the last 
month they had been at a caf4 at Montmartre three 
times each week, where they took many of their com- 
rades, to make a success for Madame Laure — a singer, 
and Huten's last conquest. They applauded her with 
such vehemence that the police were obliged to in- 

The winter passed away in this fashion. Denise 
finally obtained a salary of three hundred francs. 
It was quite time, for ber shoes were literally gone, 
and for a month she had not ventured out of the 
house lest she should come back barefooted. 

" What a noise you make. Mademoiselle, with those 
terrible shoes ! " said Madame Aur^Ue, in an annoyed 


tone. " It is really unendurable I ^ What on earth do 
you wear on your feet ? " 

The day that Denise appeared in the cloth gaiters,, 
for which she had paid five francs, Marguerite and 
Clara said in audible voices : 

" The country girl has left off her galoshes ! " 

" What a pity ! " answered the other, " for they must 
have belonged to her mother." 

A general dislike existed toward Denise. The 
department had discovered her friendship with Pau- 
line, and had looked upon it as a bravado. The idea, 
they said, of fraternizing with a saleswoman in the 
department with which they were at open warfare ! 
The war between the lingerie and confection depart- 
ments assumed new and violent proportions — harsh 
words were exchanged like so many cannon balls, 
and one evening, behind a box of shirts, even a smart 
slap was heard. Perhaps the ground of this quarrel 
was that the clerks in the lingerie room wore woolen 
gowns, and the others wore silk ; however that may 
be, the girls at the linen counter spoke of their neigh- 
bors with the contempt that ought to be felt by honest 
girls for those who are thoroughly corrupt. Clara 
was bidden to name the number of her lovers ; Mar- 
guerite was taunted with her early error, and Madame 
Frederic was accused of great misconduct. All this 
on account of this Denise ! 

" Not another word, young ladies, be quiet 1 " said 
Madame Aur^lie, majestically, " I will not have this 
sort of thing going on .here." 

The forewoman preferred to take no sides, as she 

188 THE "bonheur des dames." 

one day, confessed to Mouret, in reply to a question he 
asked. One of these girls was no better than the 
other ; they were all alike. But she changed her mind 
and flew into a passion when she heard from Bour- 
doucle that he had found her son in the basement one 
day with the girl in the lingerie department — the 
same one to whom Denise had seen him giving letters. 
It was abominable, and she talked in very plain terms 
of the trap which had been spread for this inexperi- 
enced youth — by way of injuring and dishonoring 
her, when it was found that her department could 
not be in any way found fault with by reason of her 
judicious management. 

She made all this commotion only to injure the 
women in the lingerie department, for she knew very 
well that her son was capable of any follies ; she no 
longer cherished any illusion in regard to him. 

The affair threatened to assume grave proportions, 
and the glover Mignol was dragged into it — he was 
the friend of Albert, and it was said that he favored 
the fair friends of the former when they came to his 
counter to purchase gloves. At last, however, Mouret 
succeeded in silencing the scandal, out of regard to 
the forewoman, to whom he always showed great 
deference. Bourdoucle, a week later, dismissed, on 
some other pretext, the guilty saleswoman who had 
allowed herself to be kissed. For while they closed 
their eyes to such disorders of their subordinates as 
were committed outside of the walls of the Bonheur^ 
the head of the house would not allow the smallest 
license within. ° 9' '^^^ ^^ <^oogle 

THE ^^BONHEUR DES D A M E s/' 189 

Denise was the one to suffer from this adventure. 
Madame Aurflie felt very bitterly toward her. She 
had seen her laughing one night with Pauline, and 
believed they were gossipping about her son. She 
therefore was colder and harder than ever toward the 
girl. She had been thinking for some time of taking 
these young ladies to pass a Sunday near Rambouillet, 
where she had bought a little place with the first 
savings she had made, and now suddenly decided to 
omit Denise as a punishment. The girl, therefore, 
was the one omitted in her invitations. 

For two weeks this party had been the talk of the 
department. The sky and the wind were watched, and 
all sorts of pleasures were anticipated, rides on donkeys, 
milk and brown bread. Only women were to be in- 
vited, and therefore it would be far more amusing. As 
a rule Madame Aur^Iie spent her rare holidays with 
some of her friends, for she was so little with her 
family and was so uncomfortable on such occasions 
with only her husband and her son that she preferred to 
dine at a restaurant. The husband trotted along at 
her side, delighted to resume the habits of his bachelor 
days, and Albert followed on. In this way the three 
never entered their apartment except to sleep and 
dress. When discussing the Rambouillet party, 
Madame Aur^lie simply said that Albert thought it 
best not to go, and that her husband would show 
great tact should he also refuse to appear. 

Meanwhile the happy day drew near, the young 
ladies made their preparations and discussed their 
toilettes as if they were about to undertake a «i3^ 


months' voyage. Denise listened to them, pale and 
silent in her disappointment. 

"They have left you out, then?" said Pauline one 
morning, " were I in your place I would pay them off. 
They will amuse themselves, and you had best do the 
same. Go with Baugh and me to Joinville." 

" No, thanks," answered the young girl in her usual 
quiet, obstinate tone. 

"But why not? Do you think some one will run 
away with you there ? " 

Pauline laughed good naturedly. Denise, too, smiled. 
She knew very well how things came to pass, and was 
aware that every one of these girls had met their first 
lovers in some such accidental way, and she did not 
care to run any such risk. 

*' But," continued Pauline, " I will promise that 
Baugh will not invite any of his friends. There will 
be only us three." 

Denise hesitated; she was filled with such an intense 
longing to go that her cheeks flushed scarlet. Ever 
since her fellow clerks had talked of their country 
pleasures, she had felt as if she were stifling, and had 
dreamed of nothing but the blue sky and tall grass, 
through which she could wade ; and magnificent old 
trees whose shade would refresh her like a cold bath. 

Her childhood passed in the meadows of Cotentin 
all came back to her with her longing for sunshine. 

" Yes, I will go," she said finally. 

It was all settled. Baugh would come for these young 
ladies at eight o'clock ; they would be waiting for him 
on the Place Gaillon. They would take a fidcre to the 


Vincennes Station. Denise, whose paltry pittance of 
twenty-five francs per month, was regularly devoured 
by the boys, had been able to do no more than refresh 
her old black dress with bias bands of checked poplin. 
She had made a hat for herself, and trimmed it with 
a blue ribbon. In this simple costume she looked 
very young, like a child who had grown too fast, and 
was a little ashamed of her height and of the luxuri- 
ance of her blonde tresses. 

Pauline, on the contrary, appeared in a spring silk 
of violet and black stripes, a toque to match, covered 
with feathers, ornaments on her throat and rings on 
her hands; in short she looked comfortable and 

She adopted this costume as a compensation for 
being compelled to wear woolen behind her counter ; 
while Denise, who wore her silk uniform from Monday 
to Saturday, was forced on Sunday to resume ber own 
poor garments. 

"There is Baugh," said Pauline, pointing to a tall- 
fellow standing near the fountain. 

She presented her lover, and Denise was immedi- 
ately at her ease, for he seemed to her a good natured 
young fellow. Baugh was enormousl)'- tall, with a 
long Flemish face. He was born at Dunkirk, was 
the youngest son of a grocer and had come to Paris, 
almost driven from home by his father and brother 
who thought him very stupid; nevertheless at the 
Bon' MarchS \\Q received three thousand five hun- 
dred francs. He was stupid but he understood linens, 
and the women all liked him, ^ ^^ ^ ^ 

192 THE "bonheur des dames." 

"Where is the fiacre?" asked Pauline. 

They were obliged to go to the Boulevard. The sun 
was warm and bright, the soft May morning was deli- 
cious, there was not a cloud in the sky. An involun- 
tary smile parted the lips of Denise, she drew a long 
breath and it seemed to her the weight on her chest 
from which she had been suffering was suddenly lifted. 
She was thankful to be out of the atmosphere of the 
Bonheur des Dames and rejoiced at the thought of 
having before her a long country day. She felt almost 
like a child again, and drank in new health and strength 
with every breath she drew. 

But in the fiacre she turned away uncomfortable, 
when she saw Pauline lean forward and kiss her lover 
on his lips. 

" Look ! " said Denise, " there is Monsieur L'Homme. 
How he walks ! " 

" He has his horn,*' added Pauline, leaning forward, 
"and what a shabby hat ! " 

L'Homme in fact, with his instrument under his 
arm was hurrying along the Rue Gymnase, laughing to 
himself at the feast he had in prospect. He was going 
to pass the day with a friend, a flute player at a little 

" At eight o'clock in the morning ! Who ever heard 
of such a thing ! " cried Pauline. " You know that 
Madame Aur^lie and all her clique were to take the 
half past six train." 

They began to talk of the Rambouillet party. They 
did not want it to rain because they too would suffer, 
but if there could be just a shower which did not 


extend to themselves, it would be very droll. As for 
Clara, she always had more money than she knew what 
to do with ; had she not just bought three pairs of 
gaiters and thrown them away after cutting holes in 
them with her scissors, hoping to make them easier 
for her feet which were covered with corns. She never 
thought of saving a sou, but wasted, as did the other 
saleswomen, her whole salary in finery and nonsense. 

"But he has but one arm!" said Baugh. "How 
can he play the French horn with only one arm ? " 

He had been following L'Homme with his eyes. 
Then Pauline, who amused herself occasionally with 
his naivetS^ told him that the cashier supported the 
instrument against the wall. This invention Baugh 
believed and thought very ingenious. Then Pauline, 
seized with remorse, explained that L'Homme had 
adopted a peculiar S3'^stem of stops, which enabled him 
to use only one hand ; but her lover shook his head, 
saying that she could not expect him to believe that. 

"You are very stupid, and that is the truth," she 
exclaimed, with a laugh ; " but I love you all the 

The fiacre reached the station just in time for a train. 
Baugh got the tickets and paid for them, but Denise 
said she intended to pay her own way, and they would 
settle up in the evening. They went into a second 
class car, which was filled with a gay crowd. At 
Nogent a wedding party came on board, amid shouts 
of laughter. 

When they reached Joinville, they went at once to 
order breakfast, and then they strolled along the 

194 THE "bonheur des bames." 

Marne, under the tall poplars. It was cold in the 
shade, and the air was a little sharp. Denise lingered 
behind Pauline and her lover, who walked with his 
arm around her waist. Denise had plucked a handful 
of buttercups, and was looking first at them and at 
the limpid water, when suddenly she saw Baugh kiss 
Pauline on the throat. 

Tears came to the girl's eyes, and yet she was by no 
means unhappy. Why should she have this strange 
suffocated feeling, with this wide horizon outspread 
before her? Why should she feel this vague regret, 
the cause of which she could not understand ? 

At breakfast she felt bewildered by Pauline's noisy 
laughter, who had insisted on dining in an arbor in 
spite of the cold wind. Pauline seemed to like the 
sudden blasts, and she thought the trellis, uncovered 
by vines and newly painted, very amusing. 

She had an enormous appetite, and devoured with 
the appetite of a half fed girl such things as she liked. 
This was her especial vice, and she expended all her 
money in cakes and candy, at which she nibbled con- 
stantly. When Denise had eaten enough eggs and 
chicken, she prevented her friend from ordering straw- 
berries, knowing that so early in the season they must 
be very high. "And now what shall we do?" asked 
Baugh, when coffee was served. 

Usually Pauline and he returned to Paris to dine, 
in order that they might go to the theatre in the even- 
ing. But on this occasion they decided to remain at 
Joinville, because Denise desired to do so. It would 
be quite a new experience, they though t^ized by CjOOQIc 


For a minute they talked of a boat, but abandoned 
it because Baugh rowed too badly. But they wandered 
along the shore, and became interested in the life of the 
river, with its Norwegian sailors and its odd boats. 
The sun was setting and they were turning toward 
Joinville, when two small boats came down the river. 
They were racing and shouting insults at each other. 

" Hush I " said Pauline, " that is Monsieur Huten." 

"Yes," answered Baugh, shading his eyes from the 
sun, "yes, it is he, and the other boat is rowed by 

He then went on to explain the old hatred that 
existed as schoolboys, between the young fellows who 
were brought up to trade and those who were intended 
for professions. Denise, when she heard Huten's 
name, had stopped short and with fixed eyes watched 
the slender boat as it flew past. She distinguished the 
young man among the rowers, and also saw there were 
two women in the boat, one of whom wore a red hat. 

In the evening they returned to the restaurant. But 
the air was too cool for them to remain out of doors, 
and they were obliged to take a table in one of two 
long rooms, where the dampness from the river was so 
great that the napkins felt as if they had just been 
taken from the washtub. At six o'clock every table 
was in demand. People were hurrying in looking for 
a corner, and waiters appeared with chairs and placed 
the plates closer together. The room became so warm 
that it was necessary to open the window. The day 
had nearly gone; a greenish twilight seemed to fall 
from the poplars, and it soon became so dark that the 


proprietor, unprovided with lamps, placed a candle 
on each table. The noise became intolerable, the 
candles flared in the wind from the open windows, and 
moths flew about in the air which hot as it was, was 
cut occasionally by little icy gusts. 

"Is not this nice?" said Pauline, busy with a 
matelottCj which she declared to be delicious. 

Then leaning over the table, she added : 

" You don't see M. Albert, do you ? " 

Young L'Homme was there with three most doubtful 
looking women — an old woman in a yellow hat, with 
an indescribably vulgar face, and two young girls, not 
more than fifteen or sixteen — impudent and shameless. 
Albert was tipsy, and hammered with his knife on the 
table, shouting to the waiter to bring him some liqueurs 
at once. 

" What a family I " said Pauline. " The mother 
at Rambouillet, the father in Paris, and the son at 
Joinville I " 

Denise, who detested noise, tried to smile, and felt a 
certain comfort in her inability to think in such a hub- 
bub. But all at once, from the next room, came an 
uproar that covered all others. There were shouts and 
blows, tables and chairs were thrown down, and the 
same cries that had been heard on the river were again 

The innkeeper hurried in to quell the tumult, and 
then Huten suddenly appeared. He wore a red jacket, 
a cap was set well back on his head, and on his arm 
was a tall girl in white, who in order to wear hisjoolara 

T 1 ^ 1 , ,1. . ized by Vj005r<C 

had stuck a bunch of poppies over one ear. ^ 


Loud applause greeted their entrance, by which 
Huten was much flattered, and he threw out his chest 
with an air of pride. He had received a blow on his 
cheek, which was swollen and discolored. This pair 
was followed b}'' the crew. A table was charged and 
taken amid a noise that was positively deafening. 

"It seems," said Baugh, after listening to the conver- 
sation behind him, "it seems that the students recog- 
nized the woman who is with Huten. She was formerly 
known in this Quartier^ but she sings at present in a 
caf4 at Montmartre." 

"Whoever she is," exclaimed Pauline, somewhat 
contemptuously, "she is frightfully ugly with her 
carrot-colored hair. I can't understand where Mon- 
sieur Huten picks up his friends, but every one is a 
little worse than the others." 

Denise had become very pale and icy cold. She felt 
as if every drop of blood in her heart was being slowly 
drawn away. When standing on the shore, looking at 
the boat, she had had something of the same sensation. 
She saw the terms that this girl was on with Huten. 

She suddenly asked herself if she loved this young 
man, that she was suffering so intensely. In her 
agitation, she conld not answer her own questions. 
She had a choking sensation in her throat, her hands 
trembled, and she could eat nothing. 

"What is the matter?" asked her friend. 

"Nothing," stammered Denise, "but the room is 
very warm." 

Huten's table was near and as soon as he saw Baugh, 
whom he knew, he began to talk to him iff'l'^loud voicf^ 

198 THE "bonheur des dames." 

that he might still occupy the attention of the room. 
" Tell me," he cried, " are you as virtuous as usual at 
the Bon March^?'' 

"I see no especial difference," answered the other. 

" I am told that applicants for positions as sales- 
women must appear with the record of their confir- 
mation and must swear that they are as innocent 
as babes unborn. They keep a confessional there 
too, and a priest, don't they? They make matches 
there — ! No, I thank you, not any for me ! " 

The gayety redoubled at this, and even Pauline 
laughed aloud, but Baugh was not pleased at this 
attack upon his house, and he suddenly burst forth : 

" Anyway I am thankful that I am not at the Bonheur 
des Barnes^ to be turned away for a word, and I myself 
don't like an employer who looks as if he were saying 
to his customers, ' Your money or your life ! ' " 

Huten did not reply. He had wandered off to the 
charms of a certain young girl in the Place Clichy. 
Then he told how he had made one hundred and fifty 
francs that week, and that he would not sleep until he 
had spent every sou of the money. 

As he became more and more interested he began 
to talk of Robineau, the second clerk, who put on such 
intolerable airs, and wouldn't walk in the street with 
one of the salesmen. If Bouthemont had done so it 
would not be so bad, for the head clerk had of course 
to keep up his authority. But for a Robineau to 
assume such dignity was simply preposterous. He had 
better learn a little manners. 

"Hush!" said Lidnard, "you are talking too much." 


The heat had become intense, the candles were drip- 
ping on the cloths all stained with wine, and through 
the open windows when the noise within momentarily 
abated, came a low murmur of the voices of the river 
and of the tall poplar trees. 

Baugh had asked for his bill when he saw that Denise 
was no better and was gradually becoming paler and 
paler. Her chin quivered with sobs she was trying to 
control. But the waiter did not come, and she was 
obliged to remain within the sound of Huten's voice. 

He was now saying that he was much cleverer than 
Li^nard, because Li^nard was supported by his father, 
and he himself lived on the fruit of his own intelligence. 

Finally Baugh's bill was brought, which he paid, and 
then he and the two women went away. 

'* There is one from the Louvre," said Pauline as they 
pjfssed through the room, glancing as she spoke at a tall, 
slender girl who was putting on a cloak. 

" You don't know her, how can you say that? " asked 

"I know it by the way she puts on the cloak, it is 
plain enough." 

At last they stood outside the restaurant and Denise 
drew a long breath of relief. For a moment she had 
thought she was dying in that intense heat and in that 
deafening noise. She had felt very strangely but at- 
tributed her sensations to the want of fresh air. Now 
she could breathe again. A refreshing coolness fell 
from the starry iiky. As the two young girls left the 
garden of the restaurant a timid voice murmim^dLm 
the shadow: 


"Good evening, ladies." 

It was Deloche ; they had not seen him at the extreme 
end of the dining room, where he was all alone, having 
walked out from Paris for the pleasure of the exercise. 
Recognizing his voice, Denise, feeling very ill, said, me- 
chanically : 

" Monsieur Deloche, you are going home, I suppose ? 
Will you not give me your arm?" 

Pauline and Baugh were in front and were greatly 
astonished at hearing these words. They would not 
have believed that she could have done it. There was 
another hour before the train and they decided to walk 
to the end of the island, and as they strolled along they 
looked back occasionally and said to each other: 

"Where on earth are they? Ah I I see, but it is 
certainly very droll ! " 

Denise and Deloche did not speak for some time. 
The bustle and noise of the restaurant was soon left 
behind, and became only a gentle murmur, while the 
lights faded away one by one the deeper they advanced 
among the trees. In front of them was a dense, black 
mass in which trunks «ind branches were dimly discerni- 
ble ; the path was utterly lost and they could only feel 
their way along. But they continued to advance 
slowly but fearlessly. After a while their eyes became 
accustomed to the darkness and they saw the trunks of 
the tall poplars like columns bearing leafy domes all 
pierced with stars, and occasionally the water gleamed 
like steel. The wind had died away and only the rush 
and ripple of the river was heard. 

" I am very glad that I met you," stammered Deloche 


at last, seeing that he must speak first. "You know 
not how much pleasure it gives me to be allowed to 
walk with you." Then assisted by the darkness he 
ventured to say that he loved her. He had wanted to 
write to her for some time, and possibly she would 
never have known the truth had not this beautiful 
night been his accomplice, with this musical ripple of 
the water and the soft stir of the leaves on the trees. 

The girl did not reply, her hand rested on his arm, 
and she continued to walk slowly by his side. He was 
trying to see her face when he heard a sob. 

" Good heavens ! " he exclaimed, "are you weeping? 
Have I pained you ?" 

"No, no ! " she murmured. 

She tried to restrain her tears, but it was impossible. 
As she sat at the table she had thought her heart would 
break, and now in the darkness her emotion finally 
overcame her and choking sobs threatened to stifle her, 
when she thought that if Huten had been in the place 
of Deloche and had said what he had just whispered in 
her ear, she would have been without strength to resist. 

This avowal made within her own heart, flushed her 
face with shame. 

" I did not mean to offend you," said Deloche over 
and over again, greatly moved by her tears. 

"Listen to me," she replied in a voice that was yet 
far from steady. " I am not angry with you, but you 
must never speak to me again in this way. What you 
ask is impossible. You are a good fellow, I like you 
and wish to be your friend, but that is all. .Do vou 
understand ? Your friend I " " ''^'^"' by ^OOgle 


He shivered a little. Then after walking on a few 
steps in silence he stammered: 

" Then you do not love me ? " 

And as she hesitated before an ungracious no, he 
went on in a gentle, sad voice : 

" I expected it. I have never had the smallest good 
fortune in my life and I know it is no use to expect to 
be happy. You see when a man has not plenty of 
money to waste one might as well give up the battle. 
You need not fear, I shall not torment you any more ; 
as to loving you, you can't prevent that, can you? 
And I shall continue to do that as long as I live." 

It was now his turn to shed tears. She consoled 
him, and in their effusion they discovered that they 
came from the same district. She from Valognes and 
he from Bruquebec, not thirty kilometres apart. This 
was a new tie. His father was a Huissier, poor and 
needy, who treated him very harshly, declaring that 
his long face and light hair never came to him hon- 
estly. The two young creatures began to talk of the 
fresh green meadows surrounded by wonderful hedges, 
of the narrow paths winding among the trees, and of 
the grass-grown highways. They could now distin- 
guish the tall reeds by the river side, the delicate 
tracery of the leaves above their heads against the 
pale sky, in which twinkled a myriad of stars, and a 
certain peace and serenity came to them. They forgot 
their woes, and felt nearer to each other by reason of 
their various misfortunes. 

"Well?" said PaulineJ taking Denise aside, when 
they reached the station. Digitized by (^OOgle 


The young girl understood the smile and tone of 
tender curiosity. She flushed deeply and said : 

" You are all wrong, my dear ! Did I not tell you 
that I would never love any one ? He comes from my 
district, and we have been talking of Valognes." 

Pauline and Baugh were greatly perplexed,* and did 
not know what to think. Deloche left them on the 
Place de Bassette — he slept in the shop and was 
obliged to be in at eleven o'clock. Not wishing to 
make her entrance with him, Denise, who had asked 
for permission to go to the Theatre, went with Pau- 
line to Baugh*s apartment, which he had taken in order 
to be near the Bonheur and Pauline, in the Rue Saint- 
Roch. They took a ^i(?r^, and Denise was. thunder- 
struck to learn as they were driving that her friend 
did not mean to return to the Bonheur that night. 
Nothing, after all, was easier. Madame Cabiu became 
conveniently blind and deaf if five francs were given 
her. Baugh did the honors of his room, which was in 
the old style of the Empire, his father having sent the 
furniture to him from home. He became very angry 
when Denise spoke of settling her account, but finally 
accepted the fifteen francs she laid on the table. He 
then insisted on making tea for them over a spirit 
lamp, but was obliged to go out to buy some sugar. 
The clock was striking twelve when he filled the cups. 

" I must go ! " said Denise. 

And Pauline replied: 

"Presently, but you know the theatres are later 
than this." 

Denise was not at ease in these bachelors' quarters, 


end determined that she would never repieat her 
experience of this day and evening. She rose to go 
at quarter past twelve. 

The door that led to Mouret's apartment and also to 
the upper floor where his employes were quartered, 
was on the Rue Neuve-Saint- Augustin. Madame 
Cabin could open it from within, and also see who 
entered. A faint light was burning in the room of the 
Janitress. Denise, when she stood within the circle of 
this light hesitated, vaguely uneasy, for on turning the 
corner of the street she had seen the door close on the 
shadow of a man. It must be her employer returning 
from some soirSe^ and the idea that he was standing in 
the dark corridor waiting for her, perhaps, caused her 
one of those sudden, inexplicable fears which so often 
assailed her, without the shadow of reason. The girl 
lost her head entirely; she pushed open a door that 
led into the shop, and which was left unlocked for the 
watchman to make his rounds. 

" Good Heavens ! what shall I do ! " she stammered, 
speaking aloud in her emotion. 

Suddenly she remembered that above there was 
another door of communication with the upper rooms, 
only she must cross the entire shop. She preferred to 
do this in spite of the darkness. There was no gas 
burning, but an occasional oil lamp was hung to the 
lustres ; and these bright spots, like golden spangles, 
reminded one of lanterns scattered through mines. 
Piles of merchandize assumed strange forms, those 
of crouching animals and robbers seeking conceal- 
ment. The intense silence was almost painful.^Sne 

THE " B O N n E U 11 D K S DAMES." 205 

turned to the left, and piles of white goods made a long 
pale line, reminding her of houses in a street seen under 
a summer sky. She wanted to cross the hall, but was 
brought up short by piles of cambrics, and decided 
that it was better to go through the stocking depart- 
ment and that of the woolens. There she was startled 
by a loud and measured snoring. This came from 
Joseph, who was asleep behind piles of bombazine and 
crape. She hurried into the hall which was lighted 
from above with a pale white light. It looked meas- 
ureless in size, as churches do in the night. She 
turned and fled; finally she thought herself saved 
when she reached the stairs. But on the next floor, 
in her own department she was seized with a fit of 
nervous trembling on seeing a lantern coming toward 
her — it was the firemen making their round to see 
that all was safe. She did not understand their 
movements, and watched them as they opened all the 
doors one after the other. As they approached she 
took refuge in the lace room, from which she was 
driven by a voice calling out. She recognized the 
voice as that of Deloche, who slept on a little iron bed 
which he made every night behind his counter. He 
was not yet asleep, but lay with wide open eyes going 
over the sweet hours of the evening. 

" What I is that you, Mademoiselle ? " said Mouret, 
as Denise found herself confronted by him with a 
small pocket candle-stick in his hand. 

She stammered and wished to explain. 

Mouret was not angrj', but stood looking at hex 
with his usual half-paternal, half-curious air."^^^ ^ 

206 THE "bonhkur des bamks.'* 

"You had permission, then, to go to the Theatre?" 

"Yes, sir—" 

"And were you amused? To what Theatre did 
you go?" 

" I went to the countty, sir." 

He laughed heartily. Then he said, with some 
emphasis : 

"And alone?" 

"No sir, with a friend, a girl in the next department 
to me," she replied, with cheeks blazing at the idea 
that he had doubted her. 

He said nothing, but he looked at her earnestly, 
studying her simple dress and the blue ribbon on her 
hat. Could it be possible that this little savage would 
end by being a pretty girl? Her complexion was 
freshened by the day in the open air, she was really 
charming, with her blonde hair lightly waving over 
her brow. For six months he had looked on her as a 
child and had offered her advice, wondering at times 
how she would develop in this hot-bed of Paris. He 
was no longer tempted to laugh at her, he experienced 
an indefinable sensation of surprise, almost of fear, 
mingled with tenderness. It was a lover of course who 
had embellished lier thus. At this thought it seemed 
to him that a favorite bird with which he was playing 
had pecked him until the blood came. 

"Good night, sir," murmured Denise, as without 
looking at him she continued to ascend the stairs. 

He did not reply, but stood watching her until she 
disappeared. Then he entered his own roonaa.^^^ip 



WHEN the stagnant summer season arrived, a 
perfect panic took possession of the employes 
of the Bonheur des Dames^ who stood in terror of 
dismissal, for the force of the establishment was dimin- 
ished by two thirds during the heats of July and 

Mouret, in the morning when he made his inspection, 
took aside the heads of each department and told them 
that their force must be diminished as far as pot^sible. 

And when the chief hesitated, not knowing which of 
his men to sacrifice, Mouret would say : 

''Decide for yourself, six salesmen are all you 
require. In October you can have as many as you 
want again." 

Bourdoucle was charged with these executions. He 
had a curt way of saying, "you are wanted at the 
desk," which was like the blow of an axe. He was 
most unscrupulous in finding pretexts for disembar- 
rassing the Bonheur of superfluous people. He watched 
for the smallest act of carelessness. 

" You are seated, sir. You are wanted at the desk ! 
You answered me, I think; you are wanted at the desk I 
Your boots are not blacked — you are wanted at the 

__, _ , 1 r. 1 n Digitized by CjQOQIC 

Then he would lind some reason for cutting on tSe 

208 THE "bonheur des dames." 

heads of many of these unfortunates at a time. He took 
his stand at the door just before eight o'clock with his 
watch in his hand. If a clerk were three minutes late, 
the implacable "you are wanted at the desk I " chilled 
the young fellow to the heart. 

*' You have an abominable face," he said one day to 
a poor devil whose crooked nose annoyed him. "You 
are wanted at the desk ! " 

Some of the employes obtained a fortnight's vacation, 
without ^salary, which was a more humane way of 
diminishing expenses. As a general thing the clerks 
accepted their precarious situations under the spur of 
necessity, and also because it was no new experience to 
them. Ever since their arrival in Paris, they had been 
hustled about, sent first to the right and then to the 
left, just as it happened at the dictates of prudence or 
interest. A wheel was found unnecessary to the work- 
ing of the machine, and was thrown aside. Why 
should any gratitude be felt, merely because it had 
done its duty ? 

The various departments were talking of these 
changes, indeed they talked of little else ; new stories 
were daily in circulation. The names of the dismissed 
salesmen were given, as in times of epidemic the dead 
are counted. The shawl and woolen counters were 
the first to be weeded. Six clerks vanished in one 
week. Then quite a drama disturbed the lingerie 
department, where a customer accused the girl who 
waited on her of eating garlic. The girl was at once 
dismissed, although she had done nothing more than 

Digitized by CjOOQIC 


eat a crust of bread behind her counter, being always 
hungry and but half fed. 

The management was absolutely pitiless, and acted 
at once on the smallest complaint made by a customer. 
No excuse was admitted, the employ^ was invariably 
in the wrong and such being the case, must vanish 
into thin air as soon as possible. He was a defective 
instrument, injurious to the perfection of the mech- 

In the general panic everybody was shaking in his 
shoes ; Mignol, one day when he went out, contrary to 
rules, with a small package under his coat, was caught 
and dismissed. Li^nard, whose indolence was cele- 
brated, was simply saved from dismissal one afternoon 
when Bourdoucle found him asleep between two piles 
of velvet, by his being the son of his father. 

The L'Hommes were especially uneasy, and expected 
every day that their son Albert would be sent off. 
The manner in which he managed his desk was ex- 
tremely unsatisfactory. Women were continually 
lounging past it, and Madame Aur^lie had twice 
brought all her influence to bear to preserve him firom 

Denise, in the meanwhile, was in a constant state of 
tremulous anxiety, and lived in continual expectation 
of a catastrophe. She tried her best to be courageous 
and not to yield to her forebodings, but tears blinded 
her as soon as she closed the door of her bedroom. 
She pictured herself as turned into the street, her 
uncle angry with her, and not knowing where to go of 
to whom to turn^ — without a sou, for she had been 


unable to save anything — and with her two boys to 
support. The sensations of her first days in the Bonr 
heur were all renewed. She felt like a grain of millet 
seed under a powerful grindstone, and it seemed to her 
useless to struggle with this gi^eat machine, which 
could crush her to dust with calm indifference. 

She knew perfectly well that if any saleswoman in 
the cloak department was dismissed, it would be her- 
self. She was sure, also, that her companions had 
found an opportunity of prejudicing Madame Aur^lie 
still more against her during that long day at Ram- 
bouillet, for since then the forewoman had treated her 
with greater severity. Nor had Denise been forgiven 
for going to Joinville with a girl belonging to the camp 
of the enemy — that is, to the lingerie department — 
her going out that day was indeed regarded as an 
act of insubordination and revolt. 

Never had the young girl been so badly treated, and 
at last she gave up all idea of winning the liking of 
her companions. 

*' Let them alone I " said Pauline, " they are perfect 
geese 1 " ^ 

But Denise did not think so. In fact she was 
greatly intimidated by the airs these saleswomen 
adopted. Almost all of them through daily associa- 
tion with ladies — their customers — had acquired a cer- 
tain external elegance of manner which marked them 
as a class by themselves — something between the 
Ouvridre and the Bourgeoise. They knew how to 
dress and how to move, and under their little airs and 
graces concealed the most appalling ignorance. They 


read an occasional newspaper, and knew all that was 
going on at the theatres, to be sure. 

" You know the country girl has a child," said Clara, 
one morning, as she entered the cloak room. 

Madame Aur^lie was not there, and her remark was 
greeted with loud astonishment. 

" Yes, I saw her taking it to walk last evening. I 
wonder where she keeps it." 

Two days later. Marguerite, on coming up from 
dinner, brought another piece of news. 

"Well I I have seen the country girl's lover, a work- 
man. Just think of it, a dirty little workman, with 
yellow hair, who was peeping through the window at 

The saleswomen had now settled on two facts, that 
Denise had a mechanic for a lover, and concealed a 
child somewhere near the Bonheur, Continual allu- 
sions were hurled at her, which for some time were 
entirely harmless ; but when she did understand, she 
turned deadly pale at the monstrosity of such suppo- 

Coloring deeply, she cried : 

" What do you mean ? They are my brothers." 

" Oh I do you hear that I Her brothers indeed I " 
sneered Clara. 

It was time for Madame Aur^lie to interfere. 

" Hush 1 young ladies. You had best see to those 
tickets. Mademoiselle Denise is free to behave well or 
ill outside of these doors, so long at least as she does 

her work I" nzedbyC^OOQle 

This defense amounted to a' condemnation, and tb 

212 THE "bonheur des dames/* 

young girl, as distressed as if she had been accnsed of 
a crime by the forewoman, tried to explain the facts. 
The saleswomen laughed and shrugged their shoulders. 
Denise turned away with a dull pain in her heart. 
Deloche, when he heard the rumor, as he soon did, was 
so indignant that he spoke of slapping the faces of 
these girls ; in fact, he was only deterred by a fear of 
compromising Denise. Ever since that evening at 
Joinville, he had felt for her an almost religious vene- 
ration, and a love that he showed by his watchfulness, 
and by his way of following her about with his eyes 
like some faithful dog. He did not wish any one to 
suspect his affection, as it would have led to new 
mockery; but all the same, he resolved to avenge 
the girl's wrongs if she were further tormented, or 
even attacked in his presence. 

Denise determined never again to reply to these 
insults, for no one would believe her, and it was time 
and words thrown away. When one of the sales- 
women ventured on a new allusion, Denise simply 
riveted her eyes upon her with a sad and quiet expres- 

The girl had now other cares and other anxieties. 
Jean was no more reasonable and prudent than he had 
hitherto been, and harassed her with perpetual appli- 
cations for money. Every two or three weeks she 
received from him a letter of four pages, and when 
these letters, directed in a large hand, were given her, 
she hastily thrust them into her pocket, for the sales- 
women pretended to be overcome with amusement on 
seeing them. Then after inventing some excuse to be 


alone for a few minutes and she deciphered these 
letters, she was overcome with terror — her poor Jean 
was certainly ruined I He told her the most extraordi- 
nary adventures, of which she in her ignorance exag- 
gerated the peril. He wanted forty sous with which 
to calm the jealousy of one woman, and five francs, or 
six francs to give to a father, who would certainly kill 
his daughter if he did not have them. 

Poor Denise began to see that her salary and her per- 
centage would never supply all these demands and she 
determined to see if she could not obtain some work 
outside. She spoke to Kobineau, who had felt a certain 
sympathy for her ever since he first met her at Vincard's, 
and he procured her some little cravats, at five sous per 
dozen. At night from nine to one o'clock she could 
make six dozen, which brought her in thirty sous. But 
these twenty-fiix sous satisfied Jean. She never com- 
plained of her want of sleep, and would, in fact, have 
been very well contented if another catastrophe had 
not once again ruined all her hopes. At the end of the 
second fortnight when she went to the shop for which 
she made the cravats she found the doors closed — ^the 
people had failed and she herself had lost nineteen 
francs, a considerable sum to her, one too, on which she 
had fully relied. All the troubles of the cloak depart- 
ment vanished before this disaster. 

" You are sad," said Pauline on meeting her in the 
corridor leading to their room. " Do you need anything? 
TeU me frankly." 

But Denise now owed her friend ten franca. .^£ 

Digitized by VjOOS 

answered, trying to smile : 

214 THE "bonheuk des dames." 

" No, thanks. I have slept badly, that is all." 

It was now the 20th of July and the panic among the 
people at the Bonheur was at its height. Bourdoucle 
had already dismissed fifty out of four hundred em- 
ployes, and the report was in circulation that he con- 
templated as many more. Denise paid little attention 
to these stories now, for she was absorbed in a new 
adventure of Jean's, more startling than any of the 
others.' He required fifteen francs, and this money 
would alone save him from the vengeance of a deceived 

She had received a letter the preceding evening 
relating the story in a most dramatic fashion, and two 
others followed quickly, the last of which she had just 
read when she met Pauline. In this letter Jean had 
sworn he would die that night unless she sent him 
fifteen francs. She was in agony. She could not 
again use the money she had laid aside for P^p^S's 
board, for she had paid it the previous day. 

It seemed to her that ill luck pursued her, for she 
had hoped to procure her nineteen francs through the 
mediation of Robineau, who was a friend of the woman 
for whom she had made the cravats, but Robineau had 
gone away on a leave of two weeks. 

Pauline continued to question her, and later in the 
day when they chanced to meet in one of the depart- 
ments, they retired into a comer where they were not 
likely to be interrupted. Suddenly Pauline turned 
to fly, she had seen the white cravat of an inspector 
who was certainly coming toward them. 

" No, it is Father Jouve," she murmured with an air^ 


of relief. "He will only laugh when he sees us 
together. If I were you though, I should be^ a little 
afraid, for he is altogether too kind to you, and speaks 
to the rest of us as if he were at the head of his 
troopers ! " 

Father Jouve was thoroughly detested by all the 
employes, for he was very severe, and reported the 
smallest disobedience to rules and discipline. More 
than half of the dismissals were made on his reports. 

" Why should I be afraid of him ? " asked Denise. 

"Because," answered Pauline laughing. "He may 
take it into his head to demand a proof of your 

Jouve went on, pretending not to see them, and they 
heard him blowing up a clerk at the lace counter, who 
was guilty of looking out of the window at a horse 
that had fallen in the street. 

"By the- way," said Pauline, "were you not looking 
for Robineau yesterday ? I think he has come back." 

Denise believed she was saved. 

"Thank you," she exclaimed, "I will go through 
the silk room and perhaps I shall see him; I have just 
been sent on an errand to the work-room." 

The two girls separated, and Denise with a busy air, 
as if she had an error to correct at the cashier's desk, 
hurried down the stairs. 

It was a quarter past ten, and the bell for the first 
breakfast had just rung. A hot sun, in spite of the 
gray linen awnings, made the air insufferable, although 
boys were watering the floors. There was a general 
air of sleepiness prevading the whole establishment. A 


few customers sauntered through the gallery with the 
air of women who were thankful to get into the shade. 

As Denise went down the stairs, Favier was meas- 
uring off a light silk dress for Madame Bontarel, who 
had arrived in Paris the previous evening. From the 
beginning of the month, yellow shawls and green skirts, 
the costume of the Provinces, had been common at 
the Bonheur^ so common that the clerks had ceased to 
laugh at them. Favier accompanied Madame Bontarel 
into another department, and when he returned, he said 
to Huten : 

"Yesterday they were all Auvergnates, to-day they 
are all Proven^ales ; they make me sick." 

But Huten rushed away, it was his turn, and he had 
recognized "the pretty woman," as the clerks called 
her — ^for they did not know her name — although she 
was at the Bonheur certainly once a week. She had 
always been alone until this day, when a little boy 
was with her. 

"She is manied then?" said Favier, when Huten 
came back from the cashier's desk with the bill for 
twenty-five yards of satin duchesse. 

" Very likely, but I don't see that the imp proves 
anything. He may belong to a friend. One thing is 
certain, though, she has been crying." 

A long silence followed. The two salesmen looked 
far down the shop. Then Favier said in a low voice : 

^^ If she is married, I am iSure her husband has beaten 

"Very likely 1 " repeated Huten, "though it may bo 
a lover, you know." ""'''''''' '' Google 


Then there was another long silence; 

At this moment Denise crossed the silk-room, walking 
very slowly, and looking around with the hope of 
seeing Robineau, She did not see him, however, and 
went on. Presently she appeared again. The two 
salesmen were watching her. 

"There is that girl again I " murmured Huten. 

"She is looking for Robineau," answered Favier, 
" they are always talking together." 

"Ohl there is no harm in it. Robineau is too 
stupid for that I Somebody said he had gotten some 
work for her." 

Huten was meditating a little plan. As Denise 
passed he stopped her suddenly, saying : 

" Are you looking for me ? " 

She became very red. Ever since the evening at 
Joinville she had resolutely refused to read her own 
heart. Whenever she thought of him, it was with the 
girl with red hair. Had she loved him? Did she love* 
him? She shrank from asking herself these questions, 
which were so intensely painful. 

"No sir," she replied, much embarrassed. 

Then Huten determined to tease her. 
Do you wish some one to wait upon you? Favier, 
give Robineau to this young lady." 

She looked at him steadily with the same sad eyes 
with which she received the wounding allusijons of the 
saleswomen. Ah I it was cruel for him to assail her as 
the others did. And she felt more desolate than ever. 
Her face expressed such suffering that Favier, though | 
by no means tender hearted, came to her aidf^ ^^ o 


"Monsier Robineau is in the packing room. He will 
come up for breakfast, undoubtedly, and you will find 
him here this afternoon, if you desire to speak to him." 

Denise murmured her thanks and then returned to 
the cloak-room where Madame Aur^lie was waiting 
for her in a state of white heat. " You were sent of an 
errand a half hour since," she said, "and where on 
earth have you been ? " 

The girl's head drooped, she thought that her cup of 
bitterness was now full. If Robineau did not return, 
all was over. She promised herself, however, to go 
down in the afternoon again. 

Robineau's return had let loose a revolution in the 
silk room, where strong hopes had been awakened that 
his departure was final, and that he had left because he 
could no longer endure the annoyances they heaped 
upon him. At one time when urged by Vincard to 
take his shop, he had been almost persuaded to do so. 

The mine Huten had been for months laying under 
the feet of the second clerk, was on the point of explod- 
ing, and while Robineau was away, Huten worked hard 
not only to injure the absent man in the estimation of 
his employers, but also to install himself in his place 
by showing great activity and zeal. He discovered 
many little irregularities and reported them, and sub- 
mitted many plans of improvement in several minor 

The truth was, that the paramount idea of all the 
clerks was to dislodge the companion who was one 
step above them on the ladder, and take possession of 
his place. And this very struggle seemed to make the 


whole machine go more smoothly and increase the 
sales and business of the Bonheur, Next Huten was 
Favier, then next Favier was another, and so on to 
the end. And every one rejoiced that Robineau was 
done for. 

Consequently, when that individual appeared, there 
was general discontent and disgust. The attitude of 
the salesmen was so marked and threatening that the 
head of that Department thought of sending Robineau 
into another room until things were in a better shape. 

" We prefer to go away in a body," said Huten, '" if 
he is kept." 

This whole affair bored and annoyed Bouthemont 
intensely, for his natural gayety of disposition was not 
calculated to endure this incessant quarreling. He 
really suffered in seeing these sulky faces around him, 
but at the same time he wished to be just. 

" Let him alone," he said, " he does you no harm." 

But protestations and denials greeted these words. 

" Does us no harm ! He is perfectly insupportable, 
nervous and fidgety, and so proud that he would wipe 
his shoes on us if we would allow him." 

Robineau had whims and the nerves of a woman, 
with the susceptibilities and oddities of one. Twenty 
anecdotes were in circulation about him, one ill 
particular about a poor fellow who had been made 
ill by his treatment, and others of customers whom he 
had humiliated by his remarks. 

" Well, gentlemen," said Bouthemont, "I can take 
nothing upon myself; I wiU talk with the manage- 
ment, and that is all I can do." digitized by CjOOgle 


The bell was heard for the second table; the sound 
came up from the basement, dulled by the heavy^ 
lifeless air of the shop. 

Huten and Favier went down, and found themselves 
in a crowd of clerks, who were coming from every 
direction to the narrow passage-way that led to the 
kitchen — a passage-way always lighted with gas, and 
always damp and unhealthy. 

This crowd, without a laugh or a word, hurried 
on amid the rattle of dishes and a strong smell of 

At the other end of the corridor they stopped short 
before a wicket — where the cook, armed with a big 
ladle and flanked by piles of plates, was distributing 
portions. When he stepped a little aside, the flaming 
kitchen could be seen behind his portly form and 
white apron. 

"Upon my word!" muttered Huten, as he con- 
sulted the menu on a blackboard abov^ the wieket, 
**the same stewed beef with sauce piquante^ never a 
roast in this establishment! It is enough to kill one. 
with their houilli and their fish:" 

The fish seemed to be generally despised, for the 
dish was almost untouched. 

Huten stooped a little and said, "Beef — Bixuce 

With a mechanical movement, the cook thrust his 
fork into a bit of meat, and putting it on a plate 
poured over it a spoonful of the sauce, and Huten, 
half suffocated with the hot air he had received full 
in his face when he stooped in front of the wicket, 


carried off his plate, while the words, " Beef, aauce 
piquante — beef, sauee piquante^^' followed him like a 
litany, while the cook kept steadily putting pieces of 
meat on plates and covering them with sauce, with 
the regular movement of a clock. 

" This stuff is stone cold," grumbled Favier, whose 
hands felt no heat from the plate he carried with 
extreme care lest it should be jostled from his hands. 
Ten steps further on was another wicket with a zinc 
counter, on which stood small bottles of wine — bottles 
without corks, and still wet outside where they had 
been hastily rinsed off. Each man took one of these 
bottles, and then with diflBculty made his way to a 
chair at a table. 

Huten kept up a low, perpetual grumble. 

His table, where he and Favier sat, was at the end 
of the corridor in the last dining-room. All the rooms 
were exactly alike, and had been a series of cellars 
which had been changed into a refectory, but the damp- 
ness of the walls caused the plaster and the paint to 
peel off, and the walls showed large patches of green 
mould. Past the narrow slits that did duty as win- 
dows, and opening on the street with which they were 
level, a constant succession of shadows cut off the pale 
daylight that penetrated the thick glass. In July and 
in December the heat of this place was just about the 
same — ^simply intolerable, with the air thick with the 
odors from the kitchen. 

Huten was the first to seat himself; the table was 
fastened to the wall and covered with oil-cloth ; on it j 
were knives, forks and glasses indicating the placesP 

222 THE "bonheur des dames," 

A pile of plates stood at each end, and in the centre 
was a hii^e loaf of bread pierced by a knife, the handle 
in the air. Huten disembarrassed himself of his plate, 
and deposited his bottle, and then taking his napkin 
from a shelf which was the sole ornament of the walls, 
seated himself with a sigh. 

" I am confoundedly hungry ! " he said. 

" Of course, we always are, when there is nothing 
to eat," answered Favier. 

The table was rapidly filling up. It seated twenty- 
two persons. There was a great rattle of knives and 
forks at first, for these men were hungry after their long 
hours of fatigue. In the beginning, the clerks who 
were allowed an hour for their meals were permitted 
to go out for their coifee ; consequently they dispatched 
their breakfast in twenty minutes, in order to get into 
the street. But it was found that it led to confusion;* 
they returned in a state of excitement, which prevented 
their giving their entire attention to business. And 
the management decided that they should go out no 
more, and they could have coffee, if they desired it, 
with their breakfast for three cents the cup. 

Consequently they now lingered over their meals, 
not caring to return to their counters until their hour 
had expired. Many of them read a newspaper, which 
they folded and supported against their bottles. Some 
of them, when the first pangs of hunger were satisfied, 
talked noisily, and generally of the eternal subjects of 
the bad food, the money they had made, and what they 
had done the previous Sunday and what ^e^^j^d 
do the next Sunday. 


"And what about your Robineau?" said one sales- 
man to Huten. 

The struggle of the silk room against their " second " 
as he was called, was of interest to all the departments. 
The question was discussed every night at the Caf6 

Huten, who was busy with his beef, answered : 

« Robineau ? Oh I he is back." 

Then suddenly losing his temper, he cried out : 

" Zounds ! they have given me a piece of a donkey. 
Upon my word, it is simply disgusting ! " 

" Why don't you make a complaint? " asked Favier ; 
" the meat has been kept too long." 

The two men both continued to talk in this way. 
Deloche was seated at a corner of the same table, 
eating silently. He was torraented with an excessive 
appetite, which he was never able to satisfy ; and as 
his salary was too small to allow him to supplement 
these meals elsewhere, he cut huge slices of bread and 
swallowed the least savory dishes with an air of delight. 

Consequently, all the table amused themselves with 
him, and one salesman called out : 

" Favier, send your plate to Deloche. He likes his 
meat that way." 

"And yours, too, Huten. Deloche wants it for his 
dessert ! " 

The poor fellow said nothing, but shrugged his 
shoulders. It was not his fault, surely, if he were 
always hungry. 

But this talk was quickly hushed; a certain low 
whistle warned them that Mouret and Bourdouclo^ 



were near. For. some time the complaint of the 
employes had been 80 persistent, that the management 
thought it advisable to make a personal examination of 
the quality of the food. The cook received one franc, 
fifty centimes for each person, daily. Thia was ex- 
pected to pay for everything — provisions, gas, charcoal 
and attendance — and yet they pretended to be greatly 
amazed when things were not good. That very morn- 
ing, each department had appointed a delegate to take 
the complaints of their comrades, and to speak in their 
name. Consequently, every one held his breath to 
hear what was being said in the next room, which 
Mouret and Bourdoucle had just entered. 

Mouret said the beef was excellent, and Mignol, 
indignant at this calm approval, said, ^^ Eat a mouthful, 
and see if you can get your teeth through it," while 
Li^nard said gently : " It smells badly, sir ! " 

Then Mouret began to talk most charmingly. He 
should himself prefer, he said, to eat dry bread, rather 
than to see his employes suffer, and would do all in his 
power to make them comfortable. Was he not their 

" I promise you to look into the matter," he said, in 
conclusion, elevating his voice that he might be heard 
from one end of the room to the other. 

The examination was over. The noise of knives 
and forks was resumed, and Huten murmured : 

"Yes, of course you will look into it. That is a 
nice phrase, but it does not mean much. They feed 
you here on old shoe leather, and show you the door, if 
you do not like it." °*'-^ byll^OOgle 


The salesman who had already questioned liim, now 

" Yau were saying that Robineau — " 

But a great clash of dishes drowned his voice. • The 
clerks were changing their plates themselves, and the 
piles at the ends of the table were diminished. 

When an assistant cook from the kitchen was seen 
approaching with large tin dishes, Huten said : 

" Itiz au gratin! That is the crowning touch." 

Some of the clerks liked this dish, however, and 
others, buried in their newspapers, hardly knew what 
they were eating. Every one wiped his damp brow, 
and the cellar was filled with a thick mist, while 
perpetual shadows passing the windows, threw their 
dark lines on the disordered tables. 

"Hand the bread to Deloche," cried one young 

Everybody cut his own slice, and then planted the 
knife in the crust up to the handle. 

"Who will take my rice for his dessert?" asked 

When he had concluded this bargain with a small, 
pale youtlj, he tried to sell his wine; but no one 
wanted it, for it was execrable. 

"I was telling you that Robineau had returned," he 
continued, while the talking and laughing was re> 
doubled about him. "Oh I it won't last long. You 
know he carries on intrigues with the saleswomen, on 
pretence of procuring outside work for them." 

" Hush I " murmured Favier. " Look there I "_ 

And he glanced down the corridor, where Souther ^ 


mont was walking between Mouret and Bourdoucle, 
all absorbed in conversation. The dining-room of the 
head clerks and the " seconds " waB directly opposite. 
When Boutheniont saw Mouret pass, he rose hastily 
from the table and joining him in the corridor, told the 
story of the troubles in the silk room, and asked what 
should be done. 

Mouret and Bourdoucle refused to sacrifice Robi- 
neau, who was a man of great ability, and had been 
trained to his duties by Madame Hedouin. When he 
began to tell the story, however, of the cravats, 
Bourdoucle became angry. 

"Was the fellow mad," he asked, "to procure out- 
side work for the saleswomen ? The House bought the 
tiaie of these young ladies at a very high price. If they 
worked on their own account at night, of course they 
worked less well for the House during the day. This 
was plain ; they were wearing themselves out and inju- 
ring their health which was not their own. The night 
was made for sleep, and they should sleep or they 
should be dismissed." "Watch them!" said Huten, 
" they are getting mad ! " 

Each time that the three men as they walked up and 
down the corridor, passed the dining-room, the sales- 
men watched them and commented on their every ges- 
ture. They forgot their riz au gratin, in which one of 
the clerks had just found a porcelain button. 

"I heard the word 'cravat,' " said Favier, "and you 
should have seen Bourdoucle's nose, it turned white 1 " 

Mouret was equally indignant ! For a saleswoman 
to be obliged to work at night, seemed an attack 


against the organization of the Bonheur des Dames; 
who was the simpleton who found her salary, and the 
percentage she received on her sales, insufficient for 
hepL' requirements? 

When however, B.outhemont gave the name of 
Denise, he changed his tone and found excuses for her. 

Ah! yes, that little girl, — she was not yet very 
clever, and she had responsibilities, he was told. 

Bourdoucle interrupted him to say that "she must 
be sent away at once. She was too ugly to be of any 
real use ; " he bad said that in the beginning, and he 
seemed now to take especial pleasure in repeating it. 

Mouret gave a little embarrassed laugh. "Good 
heavens ! " be cried, " bow severe you are I Can you 
never make up your mind to forgive an error? We 
will send for the culprit and give her a scolding, and 
really Robineau is the one to blanae, for he knew 
vexy well that such a performance would be displeas- 
ing to the House." 

" The master is laughing now," said Favier, as the 
group passed the door. 

"Well!" said Huten angrily, "I swear if they per- 
sist in keeping their Robineau, that we will make it 
hot for them, as well as for him I " 

Bourdoucle looked Mouret full in the face. He was 
very angry, but he contented himself with, a disdainful 
shrug of the shoulders that expressed comprehension 
and contempt. 

Bouthemout resumed his complaints ; the salesjnen 
would oertjainly leave, and some of them were very 
useful. But that which seemed to annoy these gentl^- 


men most, was the rumor of the good understanding 
existing between Robineau and Gaujean ; the latter, 
they said, was doing his best to induce Robineau to 
establisii himself in the quartier^ and offered him 
long credit in order to injure the Bonheur de% Dame9. 
There was a long silence. 

Ah I Robineau dreamed of a battle, did he ? Mouret 
became very serious ; he affected great contempt, but 
avoided announcing his decision, as if the matter were 
really unworthy of consideration. He would see Robi* 
neau, — he would talk with him, — and then Mouret 
began to talk and laugh with Bouthemont, whose father 
arriving the previous evening from his little shop at 
Montpelier, had nearly choked with rage and astonish- 
ment when he entered the enormous hall where his son 
reigned. Mouret laughed as he described the old man 
who with true southern impudence pretended to believe 
that this sort of thing could not last, and such a shop 
must collapse sooner or later. 

"Ah! there is Robineau," murmured Bourdoucle 
suddenly. " I sent him away for a few days in order 
to avoid a most deplorable conflict. Excuse my per- 
tinacity, but things are in such a condition just now, 
that I must act I " 

Robineau passed the group at this moment on his 
way to his table, and bowed. 

Mouret said again : 

" Very good, we will see to it." 

They went away. Huten and Favier looked after 
them, and when they were fairly out of sight there was 

an explosion. , . Digitized by Lj.OOgl€ 


It was really too much if the managers were to come 
down stairs while they were swallowing their meals. 
It would really be very agreeable to be watched while 
they were eating! The truth was, they had seen Robi- 
neau come in, and the smiles on the face of Mouret 
had made them very uneasy. They lowered their 
voices and sought for new vexations. 

Then Huten suddenly exclaimed : 

"I am hungry, as I usually am when I leave the 

Nevertheless, he had eaten his own and another 
dish of confiture which he had exchanged for his rice. 

"Victor! " he cried, "bring me an extra — bring me 
some more * confiture.^ " 

The waiter had just finished serving the desserts. 
Then he brought coffee, and those who took it laid 
down their three sous. Several salesmen lounged away 
in search of dark corners where they could smoke a 
cigarette. The others sat in listless attitudes before 
the table piled with dirty dishes. They rolled up bread 
crumbs and told the same stories over and over again, 
no longer conscious of the heat and the odor of cooking. 
Leaning against the wall sat Deloche, stuffed with 
bread and digesting in silence, with his eyes watching 
the window. His recreation was to look at the feet of 
the passers-by every day after breakfast. There were 
stout shoes, heavy boots, elegant boots, high -heeled 
boots, dainty, slender boots, worn by women, — a con- 
stant succession of feet, without form or head. 

" Already I " cried Huten. ^ 

A bell rang, and he was obliged to yield his placi 

230 tm? "bgnhbuk dks dames." 

and make room for the third table. The waiter came 
with pans of warm water, and big sponges to wash off 
the oil cloth covers of the tables. The dining-ropms 
were slowly vacated, the salesmen returned to their 
counters with a slow, reluctant step, and the cook had 
taken his place once more before the wicket ready to 
resume his monotonous motion of filling the plates. 

As Huten and Favier lingered, they saw Denise 
coming down the stairs. 

"Monsieur Robineau has returned, Mademoiselle," 
said Huten, with exaggerated politeness. 

" He is, however, still at the table," said the other, 
" but that does not matter, you can follow him there." 

Denise did not reply, nor even 'turn her head, never- 
theless as she passed the dining room she could not 
refrain from glancing in ; Robineau was there to be 
sure. She would try to see 'him that afternoon, and 
she continued her way down the corridor to her table, 
which was quite at the other end. 

The women ate by themselves in the reserved rooms. 
Denise entered the first, which as well as the other had 
once been a cellar and was now transformed into a 
refectory. This place, however, was much more com- 
fortable than the hall where the men dined. 

On the oval table in the centre of the room, the fif- 
teen plates were laid with amazing regularity and the 
wine was in carafes, a dish of " raie^'^ and one of beef 
at either end. Two waiters in white aprons waited on 
these ladies and saved the annoyance of their taking 
their portions from the wicket. The managers thought 
this arrangement much better. Digitized by CjOOgle 

THE "bonhkur dks damks." 231 

" Yon have been round the shop, have you ? " asked 
Pauline, who was already seated and eating bread. 

" Oh ! " answered Denise, with a blush. " I was 
with a customer." 

She was telling a falsehood. Clara touched the 
elbow of a saleswoman next her. " What on earth is 
the matter with the milk maid ? she was really very 
odd. All at once she had received a letter from her 
lover, and then she ran through the whole shop 
like a crazy woman. There was something going on." 
Then Clara, while eating the dish before her with the 
indifference of a girl who had been brought up on 
rancid lard, began to talk of a frightful tragedy of 
which the newspapers were full. 

" You read it," she said, " the story of a man who 
cut his wife's, throat with a razor." 

" And why not ? " asked a delicate looking girl, " he 
found her with another man." 

But Pauline uttered an exclamation of horror. 

" What if a woman did not love her husband, did 
that give him the right to cut her throat?" Then 
interrupting herself, she turned toward the waiter: 

" Pierre, I can't swallow the beef, tell them to send 
me an extra, an omelette, and let it be soft inside." 

While waiting, as she always carried dainties in her 
pocket, she pulled out some chocolate which she began 
to munch with her bread. 

"A man like that would not be a very pleasant 
companion," Clara resumed. " But some of them are 
so jealous! Why, only the other day, a workman 
threw his wife out of the window." Digitized by CjOOgle 


She watched Denise as she spoke, and fancied that 
the girl turned pale. It was plain that this milkmaid 
was afraid of having her face slapped by her lover, whom 
she had undoubtedly deceived. It would be a good 
joke if that delightful event took place in the shop. 

But there was a change in the conversation, they 
talked of a new piece at the theatre, where little girls 
danced better than grown people. 

Pauline, momentarily saddened by the sight of her 
over-done omelette, resumed her gaj^ety when she found 
that it was at least eatable. 

"Give me the wine," she said to Denise. "You 
ought to order an omelette too." 

" Oh ! the beef will do well enough," answered the 
young girl, who never ordered any extras, because she 
did not wish to spend a sou, and adhered strictly 
to the food furnished by the house, however repulsive * 
it might be. 

When the waiter brought the rtz au gratin^ these 
girls protested as with one voice. They had the pre- 
vious week all refused to eat it, and had hoped they 
never would see it again. 

Denise — ^thoughtful and anxious, made still more so 
by the stories told by Clara, which she with childish 
folly associated with Jean — was the only one who 
touched it, and the others looked at her with an air of 
intense disgust. Each of the others ordered extras 
and gorged themselves with confitures. 

"You know very well," said the pale-faced girl, 
** that the managers promised — " 

She was interrupted by loud laughter. "What 


was the use of repeating what the managers had 

All but Denise ordered coffee. She could not stand 
it, she said. 

The others lingered over their coffee, the women 
from the lingerie room, in their simple woolen cos- 
tumes, and the saleswomen from the cloak department 
in their robes of silk with their napkins tucked care- 
fully under their chins. It was as if ladies had 
descended to the servants' quarters to eat with their 
maids. The windows outside the gratings had been 
thrown open in order to change the stifling, ill-smelling 
atmosphere. But it was necessary to close them again 
at once, as the wheels of the carriages seemed literally 
passing over the table. 

"Hush!" whispered Pauline, "here is that old 
beast I " 

It was Inspector Jouve of whom she spoke ; he was 
sure to appear at the end of every meal, in the dining- 
room. His excuse was a good one, as he had the 
supervision of the rooms. He always entered with 
beaming smiles, and made the tour of the tables. 
Sometimes he asked if they had breakfasted well, 
and wanted to talk. But as the saleswomen were 
afraid of him, they were not disposed to linger. On 
this occasion, Glaia fled at the first sound of the bell, 
and the others followed, so that very soon only Denise 
and Pauline were left. The latter, after drinking her 
coffee, finished her chocolate pastilles. 

" I mean to send for some oranges," she exclaimed, 
hastily rising; " are you coming ? " Digitized by CjOOgle 

234 THK "bonheur des dames.'' 

"Tn a minute," answered Denise, nibbling at a crust 
of bread, for she was determined to stay to the last 
with the hope of seeing Robineau. 

Nevertheless, when she found herself alone with 
Jonve, she was uncomfortable, and hastily left the 
table. But as she moved toward the door he stepped 
forward and barred her passage. 

"Mademoiselle Denise," he began. 

Standing before her he assumed a paternal air. 
His thick, gray moustache, his short cut hair, gave 
him a military aspect, and he threw out his broad 
chest on which shone his red ribbon. 

"What is it?" she asked, momentarily reassured. 

" I surprised you, this morning, talking with your 
friend in a corner up-stairs. You know it is against 
the rules, and I ought to report you. You and your 
friend Pauline seem to be very fond of each other." 

There was a lurid light in his eyes which renewed 
the girl's uneasiness. 

He went still closer to her. 

She answered hastily, drawing back: 

"Yes, we were talking together, and did not mean 
any harm. I thank you for not reporting us." 

" I ought not to be so kind to you ; do you know 
that justice is justice? only when a girl is so pretty — " 
And he moved closer to her. Her uneasiness changed 
to positive fear. She remembered Pauline's hints, 
and also certain stories she had heard of how some of 
the saleswomen had purchased Jouve's silence. In 

^ shop itself his demonstrations were confined to 
x\g the smooth cheeks of the girls with his clumsye 


fingers, taking the hands of those who would permit it 
and retaining tliem as if he had forgotten that he held 
them. He was altogether paternal, and the wild 
beast was let loose only when he gave a little supper 
in his rooms in the Rue des Moineaux. 

" Let me pass," said the girl, drawing back. 

"Come," he said, "you surely don't mean to be 
cross to such a good friend as I? Be amiable, and 
come and take supper with me to-night." 

He laid his hand on her shoulder. She drew back 
and tried to pass, as she declined his invitation. 

The dining-room was empty; the waiter was at 
some distance down the corridor. Jouve, listening 
cautiously and looking around, threw aside his air of 
paternal familiarity and stooped to kiss her. 

" You little scamp ! " he said, " with hair like that, 
you have no right to be so stern. Come and take 
supper with me to-night." 

But feeling his hot breath on her face, the girl in a 
spasm of reckless fear, lifted both her hands and 
pushed him from her with so much energy that he 
staggered and fell against the table. Fortunately, a 
chair received him, but a glass of wine was spilled and 
bespattered his immaculate white cravat and his red 
ribbon. He sat there choking with rage, wonder- 
struck at the girl's roughness. What on earth dicj she 
mean, when he had been so good to her ? 

Presently he gasped out : 

" You bhall repent of this ; yes, I swear you 

Denise fled. She forgot Robineau in her trouht 

236 THE "bonhkur des dames, 


and went directly back to her Department, and of 
course did not dare leave it again. 

As the sun lay in the afternoon on the front of the 
shop, the rooms were stifling in spite of the awnings 
of gray linen. Some few customers came in, put the 
saleswomen to a great deal of trouble, and bought 
nothing. Everybody was yawning under the sleepy 
eyes of Madame Aur^lie. Finally, about three o'clock, 
Denise glided gently away and down to the lower 
floor. At first she pretended to have business at the 
lace counter, and stopped to ask Deloche some ques- 
tions. Then leaving him, she went on toward the 
counter where cravats were sold. Turning an angle 
suddenly, she stopped short in surprise. Jean stood 
before her. 

"What!" she exclaimed, turning very pale, "is 
that you?" 

Jean wore his blouse and was bare-headed, his pretty 
fair curls were all ruffled by the wind. He was stand* 
ing in an attitude of profound reflection, looking 
down on a case of narrow black cravats. 

" What are you doing here ? " she said, as soon as 
she could speak. 

"I am waiting for you," was the prompt reply. 
"You told me not to come here, I know, bu^ I 
haven't spoken to a soul I You need not look as if 
you had ever seen me, if you don't wish to, you know." 

Some of the salesmen were nevertheless watching 
this strange pair with a look of wondering amusement, 
and Jean dropped his voice. 

"You know she wished to come in ^e^.^^yfel^9i^8n 

THE "BONA EUR DKS D A M E s/' 237 

the square near the fountain. Give me the fifteen 
&ancs as quick as you can. We are lost without 
them — ^it is true, as true as the sun is shining." 

Denise was overwhelmed with consternation. Every- 
body was looking at them with contemptuous sneers. 
As a staircase led to the basement just at this comer 
she gently pushed her brother toward it. At the foot 
of the stairs he began to tell his story again, but in an 
embarrassed way, for he was afi-aid that he would not 
be believed. 

" The money is not for her. Oh 1 no, she is above 
that ! Her husband, too, would scorn to accept them. 
No, it is for a friend of hers who has seen us together, 
and if we do not give her the fifteen francs this very 
evening — " 

"That will do," murmured Denise. "Come this 
way, quick." 

They were now in the room where packages were 
sent out, but this being the dull season the vast place 
was a solitude. It was even chilly there. One man 
was in a distant comer doing up some bundles for the 
Quartier de la Madeleine^ and on the table near him. 
Campion, the head of this Department, was sitting with 
his legs dangling. 

Jean began again. 

" The husband has a big knife — " 

"Hush!" repeated Denise, still hurrying him on. 
They followed one of the narrow corridors, where the 
gas was kept constantly bui*ning. A reserve stock of 
merchandise was piled up in all the dark comers. 
Finally jshe stopped in one of the most obscure. JShf*" 

238 THB "bonheur des dames/' 

did not think any one would come, but as what she 
was doing was positively against the rules she was 
very nervous. 

" If that toad of a woman should betray our secret," 
Jean began again, " the husband has a great knife — ^'* 

" Where on earth do you think I can get fifteen 
francs?" asked Denise desperately. "Pray be more 
reasonable. Why do such strange things constantly 
happen to you?" 

He struck himself on his breast. His inventive talent 
and his love of romance was so great that he was no 
longer able to distinguish truth from falsehood. He 
simply dramatized his pressing needs for money. 

" I tell you by all that is sacred, that I am speaking 
the truth. I was kissing her when that toad of a 
woman — " 

His sister, tortured beyond endurance, silenced 
him again. 

"I will not hear one other word about it. Keep 
your bad conduct to yourself. You are killing me by 
inches. How can I give you money continually? Such 
nights as I pass ! And don't you see that you are taking 
the bread out of your brother's mouth? " 

Jean became deadly pale. He had never realized 
all this, and it seemed perfectly natuml that he should 
empty his heart to his sister ; it made him for the 
moment very unhappy to hear that he caused her such 
wretched nights, and that he was stealing the bread 
from the mouth of little P^p^. 

He began to weep somewhat boisterously. 

" You are right. I am a rascal ! " he cried. " And 


I mean to put an end to all this ; she laughs because I 
am only seventeen. I am so angry with myself ! " 

He took his sister's hands and covered them with 
tears and kisses. 

" Give me the fifteen francs, and I swear that I will 
never ask you for another sou. No, don't give them 
to me ; it is much better that I should die. If the 
husband murders me you will be well rid of me." 

And as she too now began to sob, he felt a pang of 

" I say this, but perhaps there is no danger. Perhaps 
no one will be killed. We will arrange it, sister, some- 
how. Good-bye." 

They heard a sound of footsteps at the end of the 
corridor. She pushed the lad further into the shadow, 
and held her breath. For a minute they heard nothing 
but the hissing of the gas-burner near them. Then the 
steps came nearer and nearer, and reaching a little 
forward, she saw Inspector Jouve coming down the cor- 
ridor with his usual pompous air. Was it accident 
that led him in this direction ? Had some one up-staii-s 
told him that she had been seen going into the base- 
ment ? She trembled from head to foot, and in her 
terror lost her head completely, and pushed Jean out 
of the corner where they were, saying : 

" Run ! Run for your life ! " • 

And driving him before her, they both fled like the 
wind, with Inspector Jouve puffing and panting behind 
them. They reached the foot of the steps which led to 
the Rue de la Michodiere. 

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*' Run ! " repeated Denise. ** Run for your life. If 
I can I will send you the fifteen francs all the same." 

Jean obeyed. And when, all out of breath, the In- 
spector arrived on the scene, he simply caught the 
gleam of the white blouse and the blonde curls as the 
lad dashed around a comer. Jouve stood still, trying 
to regain his usual serenity of deportment. Thanks to 
the shop he had assumed a new white cravat, which 
was really quite superb. 

"Very good. Miss," he said with trembling lips. 
*' This is very proper, very proper, indeed. If you think 
I will put up with such goings on in this basement, 
you are very much mistaken." 

And he followed her as she, with her heart in her 
mouth, dragged her weary limbs up the stairs. She 
attempted no explanation, although she had begun to 
realize the folly of which she had been guilty. Why 
had she not explained ? Why had she not shown her 
brother? Now she would be accused of all sorts of 
terrible things, and it would not be of the smallest use 
to say one word. She would not be believed. Again 
she forgot Robineau and returned to the cloak-room. 

Without a moment's delay, Jouve went to the 
manager's room to make his report. But he was told 
that the manager was busy with Monsieur Bourdoucle 
and McOisieur Robineau, they had been talking for 
some time. The door, however, was a little open and 
Mouret was heard laughing. 

"You want something, Jouve," cried MoUret, 
** come in." 

But a subtle instinct warned the inspector. Bour- 


doiicle coming out at that moment, Jouve decided to 
make his report to him. 

The two men walked slowly down the gallery side 
by side, one talking, and the other listening without 
the smallest variation of expression on his stern face. 

"Very well," he said at last, just as they reached 
the cloak room. Madame Aur^lie was at the same 
moment greatly vexed with Denise. Where had she 
been? These perpetual ai)sences could not be tole- 

" Madame Aur^lie ! " called Bourdoucle. 

He had make up his mind what to do. He would 
not consult Mouret, for fear of some weakness on his 
part. The head clerk told Madame Aur^lie in a low 
voice, the story as he had heard it from Jouve. All 
the saleswomen waited eagerly, scenting the impen- 
ding catastrophe. 

At last Madame Aur^lie turned and said in a solemn 
tone : 

" Mademoiselle Denise — " 

And her imperial face assumed all the stern, inex- 
orability of the all-powerful. 

" You are wanted at the desk I " 

This terrible phrase was uttered in a voice that rang 
through the large room, where there was, this hot sum- 
mer's day, not a single customer. 

Denise stood silent and very white. Suddenly she 
exclaimed : 

" 1 1 And why ? What have I done ? ". 

Bourdoucle answered coldly that the question wp 
needless, she knew very well, and she had best ^p|.^ 

242 THE "bonheur des dames 


yoke an explanation. He then made some allusion 
to cravats, and asked what sort of a reputation the 
Bonheur would have if the saleswomen received their 
lovers in the basement. 

" But it was my brother I " she cried, passionately. 

Marguerite and Clara began to laugh, while Madame 
Frederic shook her head incredulously. The same old 
story ! Always the brother. 

Then Denise looked at them all, at Bourdoucle, who 
from the beginning had not wished her to enter the 
Bonheur — at Jouve who stood in the doorway, and 
from whom she expected no justice, and then at the 
girls who had not been won by these long nine months 
of faithful performance of her duties, and by her 
smiling courage. They were all glad to hustle her 
out of doors. And what was the good of struggling? 
Why should she wish to remain, since no one liked 
her there? And she went away without one word, 
without a backward look upon the room where she 
had so long struggled. 

But, as soon as she was alone, a keener pang wrung 
her heart. No one loved her, and Mouret would hear 
this story from cruel lips. This thought changed her 
resignation into a determination that she would at 
least right herself in his eyes. Perhaps he would 
believe this infamous tale ; shame brought a blush to 
her girlish brow, and she resolved to go to him and 
explain the facts, not with the idea that he would bid 
her stay, but simply with a longing that he should 
know the truth. All her fear vanished in a passionate 

Digitized by 



longing to see him, to speak to him once more before 
she left the House. 

It was nearly five o'clock and the shop was a trifle 
cooler. She went quietly toward the manager's room, 
but when she reached it she stopped short, overwhelmed 
with a sudden sense of the inutility of any effort on her 
part. He tongue felt thick and unmanageable. He 
would not believe her, he would laugh at her as the 
others had done. No, she would make no explanation 
to him, she would disappear quietly. Then, without 
a word to Pauline or Deloche, she went to the desk. 

" Mademoiselle Denise," said the cashier, " twenty- 
two days are due to you, that is eighteen francs and 
seventy centimes, to which seven francs as commissions 
are to be added. This agrees with your own account, 
I suppose ? " 

" Yes sir, thank you." 

And Denise went arway with her money. Suddenly 
she found herself face to face with Robineau. He 
had already heard of her dismissal, and gladly promised 
to see the woman from whom she had taken the 
cravats to make. He did his best to console her, and 
became very angry as he talked. What a life it was I 
to be at the mercy of a caprice, liable to dismissal at 
any hour without even a month's notice, or a month's 
salary. Denise then went up-stairs to tell Madame 
Cabiu that she would try to send for her trunk that 
evening. The clock struck five just as she stood on 
the sidewalk outside the door of tha Bonheur. She 
was utterly bewildered and did not know where to 

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244 THE "bonheur des dames 


' That same evening, when Robineau went horae, he 
received a letter, informing him in five brief lines that 
the managers of the Bonheur saw themselves obliged, 
for reasons of their own, to relinquish his services. 

He had been seven years in the house, and that very 
afternoon had talked familiarly, Indeed confidentially, 
with these gentlemen. 

Huten and Favier were as delighted, and triumphed > 
as openly in the silk department, as Marguerite and 
Clara did up -stairs. Good riddance! Pauline and 
Deloche were the only persons who felt any regret, and 
when they met, they lamented the departure of the 
gentle creature Denise. 

" Ah ! " said the young man, " I hope she will succeed 
somewhere else, and then that she will come back here 
and fill these people with envy ! " 

It was Bourdoucle, however, who bore the shock 
alone of an interview with Mouret. When that gentle- 
man heard of the sudden dismissal of Denise, he was 
intensely irritated. As a rule, he troubled himself 
very little about the staff of employ Ss ; but this time 
he spoke of arbitrary exercise of power, and of Bour- 
doucle having exceeded his authority. Was he not 
himself the master? How happened it that others 
ventured to give orders? He would not allow such 
interference I 

He made a personal investigation, and then fell into 
a new rage. "The girl had spoken the truth," he 
said, "Campion had recognized the lad. Why, then, 
should she have been dismissed ? " 

He even talked of reinstating Denise. ^ i 

Digitized by LjOOQiC 

THE "bonheur des dames/' 245 

Bourdoncle, unmoved in his attitude of passive 
resistance, listened quietly to all these outbursts. 
Finally, one day, when he saw Mouret calmer, he 
ventured to say, in a marked tone: 

" It is better for everybody, that she has gone." 

Mouret flushed deeply, but did not speak for a 

Presently he said, with a laugh : 

"Weill Perhaps you are right! Now let us go 
up stairs and see what is going on." 

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DENISE stood for a moment, stunned and dazzled. 
The sun was still intensely hot — ^for it was July, 
though five o'clock — and Paris was dazzling bright 
with its white walls and reflected light. 

The catastrophe had come so suddenly, and she had 
"been dismissed so abruptly, that she had not yet had 
time to ask herself where she should go. 

Finally she crossed the Square, as if to turn down 
the Rue Louis-le-G-rand ; then she changed her mind, 
and went toward the Rue Saint-Roch. But she had 
another plan, and stopped at the corner of another 
stieet, which she suddenly decided to follow. She 
turned into the Passage ChoiseuL Here she suddenly 
thought of her trunk; but when she was about to 
speak to a commissionaire^ remembered she did not 
vet know where to send it. 

Then she began to look up at all the houses, and 
watch for a placard with "Lodgings to Let" in the 
window. She saw the words but dimly, for she was 
still shaken by emotion. Was it possible that she was 
alone and homeless in this great city? She must, 
nevertheless, eat and have some place to sleep. Slie 
wandered about, through street after street, continu- 
ally returning to those she knew best. She did this 
unconsciously, however, and was each time surprised 


when she found herself before the Bonheur des Dames. 
Finally she tried to escape, by turning down the Rue 
de la Michodiere. 

Fortunately, Uncle Baudu was not at his door; the 
shop looked as if every one were dead within. No, 
she could not present herself before him, for in these 
last few weeks he had pretended not to know her, and 
she would ask no favors from him now, when precisely 
the misfortune he had predicted had overtaken her^ 

On the other side of the street, a j^ellow placard 
struck her eye — " Furnished rooms to let." It was the 
only one that seemed within her means, for the house 
had a most sordid aspect, and she suddenly remem- 
bered that it was the one occupied by the old umbrella- 
maker — the little two-storied place, squeezed in between 
the Bonheur de,8 Dames and the Hdtel Duvillard, 

Old Bonnat, bearded like a prophet, with spectaqjes 
on his nose, was standing in the doorway, examining 
the ivory handle of an umbrella. Having a lease of 
the whole house, he under-let the rcfoms above to 
diminish his rent. 

"You have a room to let, sir?" asked Denise, almost 
without reflection. 

He lifted his eyes, set deep under beetling brows, 
and seemed greatly surprised to see her. Every one 
of these shop girls was known to him. He answered, 
after examining her neat little dress and her womanly, 
sweet face : 

" Yes — ^but it won't do for you ! " 

" What do you ask? " said Denise. 

"Fifteen francs monthly." Digitized by Google 

248 THE "bonhkur des dames." 

She asked to see the room, and standing in the 
narrow shop, as he still questioned her with astonished 
eyes, she told why she had been dismissed from her 
situation and that she could not consent to trouble her 
uncle. The old man took the key from a shelf in a 
back shop, a little dark room where he worked and 
slept, and where, through the one dusty window, a 
small courtyard could be seen. 

"I will go first," said Bonnat, "lest you should fall." 

He groped his way through the narrow corridor, and 
felt with his foot for the first stair. He began to 
ascend, giving her repeated warnings as he did so. 
There was a hole in one stair and a box of ashes in the 
corner of another. Denise, in almost absolute dark- 
ness, could only feel the dampness from the old 
plastered walls. At the first landing, there was a 
window on the courtyard, which threw a dim light on 
dirty walls and several doors, where the paint was 
worn off in patches. 

" If one of these rooms was empty, you would do 
very well. But they are all occupied by ladies." 

On the second floor the light became stronger, re- 
vealing all the sordid masonry of the place. A baker's 
boy occupied the first room, and the other was vacant. 
When Bonnat opened the door, he was obliged to 
remain outrside while Denise went in. The bed stood 
behind the door, and left just room for one person to 
enter. Beyond, toward the window, there was a tiny 
chestnut bureau, a pine table and two chairs. The 
lodgers who wished to do a little cooking, knelt before 
the tiny chininey in which was a small furnaoeiOOgle 


"It is a small room, to be sure," said the old man ; 
. *'but there is a good view of the street." And as Denise 
looked up with some surprise at the ceiling over the 
bed, where the former occupant had written her name, 
"Ernestine," by moving a smoking candle up and 
down to form the letters, he added in a good-natured, 
patronizing way, "If I should undertake to repair, 
you see, I should never make both ends meet. This 
at all events, is all I have for you." 

"It will do very well," answered the girl. She paid 
a month in advance, asked for sheets and towels, and 
at once made her bed, with a blessed sense of relief that 
she at last knew where she should sleep that night. 
An hour later, the commissionaire she sent for her trunk 
brought it, and she was settled. 

Then came two months of terrible poverty. .As she 
could not pay P^p^'s board, she brought him to her 
room, and he slept on a little cot-bed lent by Bonnat. 
She required precisely thirty sous per day, her rent in- 
cluded; she herself lived on dry bread that she might 
give a little meat to the child. She had ten francs in 
her pocket when she began in this place, and then she 
was fortunate enough to obtain her nineteen francs for 
her cravats from the woman who owed her the money. 
But when that was gone she had no prospect of more, 
for she could obtain no employment. Slie went to 
shop after shop ; but it was the dull season and she 
was told to apply again in October. More than five 
thousand men and women wandered through the 
streets in the same condition as herself, having been 
dismissed from their situations. ..^.^.^^^ by C^OOgle 

250 THE "bonheur des dames." 

She endeavored to obtain work, but in her ignorance 
of Paris, she did not know where to apply. Sometimes 
she obtained something to do, and then was cheated 
out of her money. 

Sometimes she gave P^p^ soup for his dinner, say- 
ing she had eaten hers before she came in ; and then 
she went to bed with a dizzy head, fed only by the 
fever that burned her hands. 

When Jean suddenly appeared in this wretched 
place he beat his breast, and called himself a rascal with 
such despairing violence, that she was obliged to lie to 
him. She sometimes gave him a piece of silver to prove 
that she had made some little savings. She never wept 
before the children. On those Sunda3's when she could 
manage to buy a bit of veal and cook it on her furnace, 
the little room rang with the laughter of children, who 
had not yet learned to know how hard it was to live. 

Then Jean went back to his employer, and P^p^ fell 
asleep, while she lay wide awake, dreading the next 

Other fears, too, kept her awake. The two ladies 
on the floor below received late visitors, and sometimes 
a man made a mistake and came up the second flight 
of stairs to hammer at her door. 

Bonnat told her never to answer, and the girl buried 
her head in her pillow to escape the frightful oaths that 
followed the knocks. Then her neighbor, the baker, 
was of a jocose turn of mind. He tried to speak to her, and 
even made a hole in the wall, that he might watch her. 
She hung all her clothes up, and put an end to liis 
amusement. But she suffered most f JftfHd b^^d^Ml^ 


she received in the street. She could not go out to buy 
a candle without hearing some vile proposition breathed 
in her ear; and these men pursued her into the dark alley, 
encouraged by the miserable appearance of the house. 

Why, she asked herself, did she not do as her friend 
had advised, why did she not take a lover? She 
herself could not have explained why she resisted, 
attacked as she was by enemies within and without, 
by hunger and distress of all kmds. 

One evening Denise had not even a bit of bread for 
P^pd, when a well-dressed man, wearing a decoration 
on his breast, accosted her. He followed her to the 
door, which she with intense loathing shut in his face. 

When she reached her room, she sank on the floor 
all in a heap. P^pd was asleep ; what should she say 
if he awoke and asked for food ? And yet she knew if 
she had allowed that stranger to follow her up the 
stairs, her poverty would have been at an end ; she 
would have had gold and fine clothes. 

It was a simple thing to do, and the inevitable end, 
since she had been told that a woman in Paris could 
not Uve on her work. 

B'lt her whole being protested; she reproached no 
one else, but it was simply impossible for her to do the 
same. It was not her idea of life. 

Denise often wondered what her fate would be. An 
old song continually haunted her, about a girl who, 
loving a sailor, was preserved from all the danger of 
his long absence by the intensity of her love. She 
asked herself if she cared for any one, and if this was 
why she was so brave. Dig,,,, by (^OOgle 

252 THE "bonheur des dames." 

She thought of Huten uneasily. She saw him pass 
night and morning. He had been promoted to Robi- 
neau's place. He never looked up, and sometimes she 
felt a little distressed that she could watch him without 
fear of being observed. 

As soon, .however, as she saw Mouret, who also 
passed each day, she shrank back trembling from head 
to foot. She did not wish him to know where she 
lived. She was ashamed of the house, and dreaded lest 
he should think worse of her for living there. And 
this she could not endure, although in all probability 
they would never speak to each other again. 

Denise, moreover, was by no means beyond the 
influence of the Bonheur des Dames. A simple wall 
separated her present room from the salon where she had 
served; and early in the morning she recommenced 
her day there as usual. As the hours wore on she 
realized the crowd in the shop, for every movement there 
jarred the old house in which she was living. Then, 
too, Denise could not altogether avoid meeting certain 
people. Twice Pauline had stopped her and offered her 
services ; the girl had been forced to lie, to avoid a visit 
from her friend. It was with greater difficulty that 
she resisted the eager devotion of Deloche. He watched 
her so tenderly that he knew all her anxieties and 
cares. He watched and waited for her, and one even- 
ing, he entreated her to accept a gift of twenty francs, 
*' as the savings of a brother," he added with a blush. 
And these meetings kept her constantly regretting the 
shop, and occupied her thoughts with the daily routine 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


of the life there, as much as if she were still employed 
in the Bonheur. 

No one came to see Denise; she was, therefore 
greatly surprised when she heard a friendly knock one 
day. It was Colomban. She received him standing. 
He was extremely embarrassed at first, asked how she 
was. She wondered if her uncle, regretting his harsh- 
ness, had sent him, for he still continued to ignore 
liis niece when he met her, although he could not fail 
to be aware of her extreme destitution. But when she 
questioned the clerk, he appeared to be more than ever 

No, he had not come from his employer, and finally 
he stammered out something about Clara. By degrees 
he became bolder and asked advice from Denise, with 
the odd notion that the girl could serve him with her 
old , companion. 

Denise at this spoke to the young man very plainly 
and reproached him for causing Genevieve to suJBFer, on 
account of a girl who was totally without heart. 

He came another day, and finally took to coming 
quite often. He was happy in talking to some one 
who had -known Clara, and in this way Denise was 
forced to hear still more about the Bonheur des Dames, 

It was in the last days of September that the young 
girl found herself totally without money. Pdp^ was 
ill with a violent cold. He needed a good soup, and 
she had not even a crust of bread to give him. 

One evening when utterly vanquished, and in that 
state which throws many a woman on the street, or into 
the Seine, old Bonnat knocked softly §|tizteF^-^^l^ 


He brought a loaf of bread and a milk-can full of 

" Here," he said, " this is for the boy. Don't cry- 
so loud, it disturbs my lodgers," he added, in his usual 
rough way. 

And when she thanked him with broken words and 
sobs, he said : 

'^ Hold your tongue. To-morrow come and we will 
have a little talk together. I have some work for 

Bonnat, since the terrible blow given by the Bon- 
heur des Dames to his business, by themselves selling 
umbrellas and parasols, no longer employed any work- 
women. He did everything himself in order to keep 
his expenses down. He cleaned, served and repaired. 
His customers were now so few and far between that 
he needed little assistance. He was, therefore, obliged 
to invent work the next day when he installed Denise 
in his shop. He could not let people die under his 
roof, he said to himself, moodily. 

" You shall have forty sous per day," he ^aid, " and 
when you find anything better to do, you can leave 

She was in deadly fear of him, and she hurried 
through her work, so that he had some difficulty in 
keeping her employed. He gave her breadths to sew 
and lace to mend. The first day she did not dare lift 
her head, she was embarrassed at having him so near 
her with his lion-like mane, his hooked nose, and his 
keen eyes under his shaggy brows. His voice was 
loud and harsh, and his gestures so energetic that 'the 

DES dames/* 255 

mothers in the quartier terrified their children when 
naughty, by threatening to send for him. Nevertheless 
these same children never passed his sliop without 
shouting some insulting epithet which he pretended not 
to hear. All his anger exhaled in his rage against the 
villains who dishonored his trade by selling base imita- 
tions of his wares, '* things," he said ** that dogs would 
not use." 

Denise trembled, when he shouted: 

" There is not a decent parasol handle made now- 
adays, there are plenty of sticks, but no handles. Find 
me a handle and I will give you twenty francs! " 

This was his artistic pride ; there was not a man in 
Paris who could make a handle like his, light and yet 
solid. He carved the round ball at the end with an 
endless variety of delicate designs; flowers, fruits, 
animals and heads were alike traced with freedom and 
power. A little penknife was all the tool he used, and 
he sat all day long at work on a bit of ebony, his 
spectacled nose bent close over his congenial task. 

*' Ignorant fools I " he said, "they buy their handles 
by the gross. I tell you there is no feeling for art — 
no artistic talent in these days ! " 

Denise soothed him. He wanted P^p^ to come down 
and play in the shop, for he adored children. When 
the child went about on all fours, and the girl sat in her 
corner sewing with the old man in front of the window 
it made a very pretty picture. 

Each day there was the same conversation and the 
same occupation. He insisted on talking of the Bon- 
heur, and never wearied of telling over and over agatigle 

256 THE "bonheur des dames." 

of the terrible duel that had been inaugurated between 
himself and his neighbors of the Bonheur des Dames. 

He had been living in the house he now occupied 
since 1845 and had a year's lease at a rent of eighteen 
hundred francs, and as he received a thousand francs 
for his four furnished rooms, he got his shop for eight. 
It was a good bargain and as yet he had no reason to 
regret it. To hear him talk, one would think that 
his final victory had already been assured. 

Suddenly he would stop in the full tide of his dis- 
course, and exclaim : 

"Can they carve such a dog's head as that?" and 
he half shut his eyes behind his spectacles to judge of 
the head he was carving. It was simply wonderful 
in its spirit, with its lips curled down and the angry 
look in its eyes. 

P^p6, in an ecstasy of delight, ran to the old man 
and leaning on his knee, petitioned to be taken up. 

" Provided I can make both ends meet, I care about 
little else," said Bonnat, as with the point of his pen- 
knife he attacked the dog's tongue. " The rascals have 
cut off my profits, but if I don't make much, I lose 
nothing as yet, or almost nothing, and I have made 
up my mind to lose my very skin rather than yield." 

He brandished his knife, and his white hair rose on 
his head with the angry wind he made. 

'*And yet," Denise ventured to say quite meekly, 
without raising her eyes from her needle, '• if you were 
offered a reasonable sum, surely it would be wiser to 
accept it — " 

Then his obstinate anger burst forth. izedbyGoOQle 


" Never 1 " he cried. " If my head were under the 
axe I should still say, never ! I have ten years more on 
my lease, and they shall not have the house for ten 
years, not even if I die of hunger witljin these four 
walls. They have been to me twice already. They 
have offered me twelve thousand francs and the rent 
of my unexpired lease, in all thirty thousand francs. 
No, not for fifty thousand. Not if they lick the 
ground at my feet." 

" Thirty thousand francs is a very nice sum," said 
Denise thoughtfully. *'You might establish j^ourself 
in a better place. And suppose they buy the 
house ? " 

Bonnat, who had finished the dog's tongue and was 
contemplating it with intense delight, suddenly ex- 
claimed : 

"Buy the house! No, there is not the slightest 
danger of that. They talked of it last year, and would 
have given eighty thousand francs, double what it is 
worth. But the owner, who is as much of a, rascal as 
they, was determined to make them pay. Besides, they 
are disturbed about me — they know they can't get rid 
of me I No, no — here I am and here I will stay. The 
Emperor with all his soldiers cannot dislodge me ! " 

Denise did not venture to breathe. She scarce dared 
draw her needle through her work, while the old man 
continued to vituperate. 

"Strange things would happen," he said; "he had 
some ideas that would make their mark yet ! " And 
every word he uttered was prompted by the rq}j^^d[^ 
the small manufacturer against the larger one. 


P^p^ ended by climbing on Bonnat's knees. He 
reached out toward the dog's head. 

" Give it to me I '* he cried. 

" Presently," answered the old man, in a voice that 
suddenly became tender and loving. "Its eyes are 
not right yet. Let me finish its eyes.'' And as he 
worked he again addressed Denise. 

"Do you hear the noise they make? Upon my 
word, it is enough to deafen onel" 

He went on to say that his very table shook with 
the jar of the crowd that went in and out of the 
Bonheur all day long, while never a customer came 
to him. He was told that on a fine day they took 
ten thousand francs in the silk-room, but if it rained 
there were no receipts at all. The smallest noise he 
heard furnished him with matter for coiitment. 

" Some one has fallen ! " he cried, " ah 1 if they 
could all break their necks ! And do you hear tliose 
ladies disputing? So much the better, my dear, so 
much the better! And do you hear the bundles 
going down the slide? Upon my word, it is dis- 
gusting 1 " 

Then he went to comment on the abominable fashion 
in which Denise had been dismissed, and compelled 
her for the fiftieth time to describe all she had been 
obliged to endure at the Bonheur des Dames, 

Thus it came to pass that from morning until night 
Denise heard of little else than this shop ; it seemed to 
pervade the very air she breathed. 

"Give it to mel Ah! give it to me," cfied^^P^ 
extending his hands eagerly. ^m^^^ by 


The head was finished. Bonnat advanced it and 
pulled it back with the gayety of a child. 

" Take care — it will bite 1 Take it, but don't hurt 
it, I beg of you." 

Then, pursued by his fixed idea, he shook his fist at 
the wall. 

" You need not think you will have this house," he 
cried. "No, you shall not, if you swallow all the rest 
of the quartier ! " 

Denise now had bread every day. . She was deeply 
grateful to the old man, of whose good heart she was 
fully conscious, in spite of his strange violence. Her 
great longing, however, was to find work elsewhere, 
for she saw him invent tasks for her. She knew 
that he did not require her services, for he had no 
business, and that he gave her employment out of 
pure charity. Six months had now elapsed, midwin- 
ter had arrived, the dull season again, and she was in 
despair, when one evening in January, Deloche, who 
was watching for her as usual, gave her a bit of 
advice. Why did she not go to see Robineau, who, it 
was quite likely, needed saleswomen. 

In September, Robineau had decided to buy Vincard 
out, at the same time trembling to risk his wife's 
small fortune of sixty thousand francs. He had paid 
forty thousand francs to control a specialty of silk. 
This was not much, but he had behind him Gaujean, 
who would sustain him by long credits. Since his 
quarrel with the Bonheur de% Dames^ Gaujean had 
thought of nothing but of how he could injure it. H' 
believed he could succeed, if in the^ itEdlf^S^ie 


several specialties could be established where custom- 
ers would have a larger choice. Only the wealthiest 
manufacturers of Lyons could accede to the require- 
ments of these large shops, and Gaujean was not one 
of these. He had been established only iSve or six 
years, and he only furnished the raw material and 
paid so much a yard. It was this system which had 
prevented his struggling against Dumontiel in regard 
to the Paris Bonheur, He had never recovered his 
temper, and now snatched at Robineau as the weapon 
for a decisive battle. 

When Denise presented herself, she found Madame 
Robineau alone. As the daughter of an Inspector of 
Bridges and Streets, she was absolutely ignorant of 
business, displaying still the charming awkwardness 
of a girl brought up in a convent at Chartres. She 
was a brunette, very pretty, with a laughing gayety 
that made her very pleasing. She adored her husband, 
and had no interest in life other than this love. 

Just as Denise was going away, after leaving her 
name, Robineau came in and engaged her at once, one 
of his saleswomen having left him the night before to 
enter the Bonheur. 

" It does not matter, though, now that I have you/' 
he said, " for with you I shall feel tranquil ; for you 
will not be inclined to leave me to go to them, as they 
have once treated you so badly. You can come 

That evening found Denise in a great state of 
embarrassment. She did not know liow to tell Bon- 
^at that she was about to leave hin^igiti^^hen shee 


began, the old man at once treated her as the most 
ungrateful of women ; but when she defended herself 
with tears in her eyes, and told him that she was fully- 
aware that he had never needed her services, and that 
he employed her only out of charity, he softened at 
once, called her a little story teller, and said that she 
was leaving him just at the moment when he was 
about to launch a new umbrella of his own invention. 

"And P6p^ ?" he asked. 

The child was now a great care to Denise. She 
dared not take him back to Madame Gras, and yet she 
could not leave him alone in his chamber, shut up from 
morning until night. 

" I will take care of him," said the old man. " He 
is very happy in my shoj), and we will keep house 

She refused, unwilling to give him so much trouble. 

" Zounds !" he cried, "do you think I shall eat him ?" 

Denise was much happier with the Robineaus. Her 
salary was small, only sixty francs per month and her 
board, but not lodging ; nor did she have any percent- 
age on the sales, as at the Bonheur. 

But she was treated with great kindness, particularly 
by Madame Robineau, who sat at the desk, smiling and 

He, however, was nervous, restless and anxious. At 
the end of a month, Denise was looked upon as one of 
the family. Conversation was never restrained by her 
presence, and business matters were openly discussed 
before her at table in the back shop, which looked gj^(^ 
on a light, sunny court. 


It was here that one day it was decided to open the 
campaign against the Bonheur de» Dames, 

Gaujean was dining there; and when the leg of 
mutton appeared, he brought up the question in his 
soft, Lj'^onnaise voice, thickened by the fogs of the 

" They can't keep things going long at this rate," he 
said, '"for Dumontiel himself can't be making twenty 
centimes on a piece of silk. He works that his opera- 
tives may not be idle, for that, of course, would be his 
ruin. He has just sent three hundred pieces to the 

Robineau laid down his knife and fork. 

" Three hundred pieces," he murmured ; "and here 
am I trembling when I take twelve, at ninety days. 
They sell much cheaper than we can afford to do. I 
have calculated that they are selling at an average 
of fifteen per cent, lower than we. It is this that is 
killing the small retailers." 

He was in a most hopeless mood. His wife looked 
at him with tenderness. She knew nothing of busi- 
ness, and all these figures, she said, gave her a headache, 
and she did not see why people should take so much 
trouble to be rich, when it was so easy to laugh, love 
and be happy. Nevertheless, as her husband had 
resolved to conquer, she was determined to consecrate 
all her abilities to the same end. 

"Why on earth don't the manufacturers form 
a league together?" resumed Robineau, violently. 
^^They should make the laws, instead of submitting 
to them." 


Gaujean asked for another slice of mutton, and then 

" Why, indeed ! When a man has several manufac- 
tories, one might be idle for a day or two without any 
very great loss ; but we, who employ men who often 
have two or three other trades, can control the produc- 
tion better than the larger manufacturers, who are 
often compelled to clear out their stock even at a loss. 
Consequently, they are on their knees half the time 
before the large dealers, and are ready to lose to obtain 
their orders. And then they recover themselves with 
3^0 ur small establishment and others like yours. 
Heaven only knows how things will end I " 

" It is simply abominable ! " cried Robineau, angrily. 

Denise listened in silence. She was secretly on the 
side of the great houses, iu her instinctive love of logic 
and life. 

A long silence followed Robineau's words, and she 
finally ventured to say, with an air of gayety : 

" The public don't suffer, at all events I " 

Madame Robineau laughed, which annoyed her 
husband and Gaujean. Of course customers did not 
complain, since they profited by the reduction in prices. 
Only it was plain that every one must live. Wliat 
would the result be, if under the pretext of a general 
good result, the consumers grew fat to the detriment 
of the producer? Then came a long argument. 
Denise affected to be in jest, while at the same time 
offering ver}^ solid arguments. Intermediaries, she 
said, would disappear — agents and commissioners, who 
added greatly to the expenses. These large manufaii^ 


tories could not exist without the large shops, for as 
80011 as one among them lost its customers a failure 
became certain. There was a natural evolution in 
trade, and things could not be prevented from going as 
they ought to go. 

*' Then you take the part of those who turned you 
out of doors?" asked Gaujean, abruptly. 

Denise turned scarlet, and was surprised at herself 
for doing so. What fire was in her heart, that a flame 
like this should flash to her brow ? 
. "No," she answered, quickly, "no, I do not, and I 
really beg your pardon for speaking on a subject in 
which you are so much better informed than I. I only 
said what I thought. Prices nowadays, instead of 
being settled by fifty or more houses, are decided to-day 
by four or five, who have lowered them through the 
strength of their capital and the number of their custo- 
mers. So much the better for the public, that is all ! " 

Robineau was not vexed. He had become very 
grave, and looked down on the table-cloth in silence. 
He had often felt this movement in trade — this evolu- 
tion of which the young girl had spoken — and he asked 
himself, in his moments of clearer vision, if it were 
worth while to resist a current of such violence. 
Madame Robineau, seeing that her husband was very 
thoughtful, nodded approval at Denise, who had re- 
lapsed into modest silence. 

" All these are theories," said Gaujean ; " we had 
best talk business." 

After the cheese, the maid served sweetmeats and 
pears. He took the sweetmeats and began l^^^^^i^m 


with the artless gluttony of a big man who adores 

"You must break them down on ^ their Parii Bon* 
heuvj which has been the great success this year. I 
have been talking with my cor^freres in Lyons, and I 
have a most extraordinary offer to make to you. There 
is a black silk, a faille^ which you can sell at five 
francs, fifty centimes ; they are selling theirs for five, 
sixty, and by coming to you, they will save two cents 
on a yard, and ther women will all do it, as you will 

Robineau's eyes lighted up. In his continual nervous 
excitement, he often rushed, in this way from despair 
to hope. 

*' Have you any sample ? " he asked. 

And when Gaujean pulled from his pocket book a 
small square of silk, he became much excited. 

" It is infinitely better than the Paris Bonheur^ or at 
all events, it has a better effect — the grain is so much 
coarser. You are right, we had best try it. I wish to 
Heaven I could bring them to my feet. I should keep 
them there some time, I assure you." 

Madame Robineau, sharing these enthusiasms, de- 
clared the silk to be superb. Denise herself believed 
it would be a success. The close of the dinner was 
very gay, and these people talked as if the end of the 
Bonheur des Dames was near at hand. Gaujean 
"finished the pot of sweetmeats, explaining as he did so, 
the enormous sacrifices which he and his colleagues 
were ready to make, in order that Robineau should be^ 
able to offer such a silk at such a price; but the^ 

266 THE "bonh^eur des dames." 

would ruin themselves, rather than allow these great 
shops to have their way. Coffee was now brought in> 
and the gayety of the little party was still further 
augmented by the arrival of Viucard. 

He felt of the silk, and congratulated his successor. 

" You will do for them, with that ! " he cried. " Did 
not I tell you, you had a gold mine here ? *' 

He himself had opened a restaurant at Vincennes. 
It was an old dream of his, fondly cherished while he 
trembled in this little shop, lest he should not be able 
to sell out before the crash came. 

This idea of a restaurant had come to him after the 
marriage of a cousin, when he was astonished to hear 
the prices that had been paid for the various dishes at 
the wedding breakfast. And his round face was even 
now radiant whenever he entered the Robineaus', that 
he had washed his hands of this unfoi-tunate business. 

"And your aches and pains — how are they now?'* 
asked Madame Robineau, courteously. . 

" My aches and pains ? " he repeated, in an aston- 
ished tone. 

"Yes, the rheumatism which tormented you so 

He remembered now, and colored a little. 

" Oh! it still troubles me ; but country air has done 
wonders, you know. Never mind, you are in luck. 
But for my rheumatism, I should have retired with an 
income of ten thousand francs, before the next ten 
years had elapsed." 

A fortnight later, the battle between Robineau and 
the Bonheur was fully opened. It became the talk of 


the town. Robineau, borrowing the arms of his adver- 
sary, advertised in all the newspapers. He filled his 
windows with enormous piles of this famous silk, and 
had large, white placards everywhere, on which, in big, 
black letters, was the price — Five francs, fifty. 

It was these figures that touched the hearts of .the 
women — two cents cheaper than the Pam Bonheuvy 
and reallj^ the silk was better in quality. Customers 
crowded to the shop. Madame Marly bought a dress 
which she did not need, on the score of economy, 
Madame Bourdelais thought the silk excellent; but 
she preferred to wait, probably with a very clear per- 
ception of what would happen. In fact, the very next 
week, Mouret took twenty centimes off the price of 
the Paris Bonheur. He had a long discussion with 
Bourdoucle and the rest — ^a lively discussion, to induce 
them to accept the battle and lose on the silk — for 
they were already selling at cost. 

This was a terrible blow to Robineau, who did not 
believe that Mouret would lower his prices, for such 
suicidal acts are most uncommon. The flood of custo- 
mers naturally went with the current that promised 
bargains, and went to the Bonheur^ while Robineau's 
shop stood empty. 

Gaujean flew ofl^ to Lyons, and had a terrified con- 
sultation there, which resulted an the heroic determina- 
tion to lower the price of their silk yet another ten 
centimes/ They would sell it for five francs, thirty, 
and if any one undersold them at this figure, it would 
be an act of the most utter madness. The next da; e 
Mouret's placards said five francs, twenty. Both me 

268 THE "bonheur des dames 


were now incurring heavy losses each time that they 
made this present to the public. 
. Robineau replied by five francs, fifteen. Mouret 
then put np placards at five francs, ten. . Customers 
laughed, enchanted at this duel between these rival 

Finally Mouret offered the silk at five francs, to the 
pale horror of his associates. Robineau stopped short. 
He could go no lower, and they both stood glaring at 
each other, over the ruins of their merchandise. But 
if his honor were safe, Robineau was none the less in a 
position of great peril. The Bonheur^ with its enor- 
mous trade, could easily make up the losses; but it 
was vastly different with Robineau. He had only 
Gaujean to sustain him, and was daily slipping down 
the fatal hill of failure. He was dying of his own 
temerity, in spite of the great influx of customers, 
momentarily brought to his counters by his contest 
with the Bonheur. Not the least cruel of his secret 
woes was that of seeing these customers slowly leave 
him and return to his rival, after all the money he 
had spent, and all his superhuman efforts. 

One day he lost his patience. Madame de Bovea 
had come to see^his mantles, for he had added €or\feo^ 
tions to his specialty of silks. She could not makq up 
her mind, and finally said : 

" Their Pan« Bonheur is the better silk." 

Robineau had great difi&culty in containing' himself. 
He simply said that he thought she waa mistal^en- 
His manner was polite, but decided. c a i 

"But look at this circular," she wd'''''^*'tWT^i 

THE "bonheur des dames/' 269 

use in denying it. Their silk, at five francs, is like 
leather, by the side of this spider's web." 

He did not reply. The truth was, he had adopted 
the ingenious device of bujdng the silk for his confec* 
tions from his rival. In this way, it was Mouret, not 
himself, who was the loser on the stuff. He had, of 
course, cut off the selvage. 

*' You think the Paris Bonheur thicker, then ? " 

" Oh I there is no compcirison 1 " answered Madame 
de Boves. 

This injustice was maddening, and as she was still 
examining the circular with a disgusted air, a bit of the 
blue and silver selvage, that had escaped the eye of the 
cutter, was seen under the lining. He could no longer 
contain himself, but spoke his mind plainly. 

"Very well, Madame, this silk is the Paris Bonheur; 
it was bought at the Bonheur des Dames, Here is the 

Madame de Boves went off full of wrath. 

Many of his customers left him when they heard this 
story. And he amid this ruin, trembled only for his 
little wife, who had been brought up in a comforta- 
ble home, and knew nothing of poverty. What would 
become of her if he should fail and have only his debts 
left in the world ! It was his own fault ; he should 
never have touched her sixty thousand francs. 

She did her best to console him ; was not the 
nioney as much hers as his ? She asked nothing but 
his love, and was ready to give him her heart and her 

^^^^' , i^dbyC^oogle 

Denise heard them talking in the back shop in th& 


way. The fall of this establishment was slow but sure. 
Each day a certain progress was made toward failure. 
Only hope sustained them, while they constantly an- 
nounced an impending crash at the Bonheur, 

" Pshaw ! " he said, " we are still young. The future 
is ours ! " 

" And then, too, what does it matter if you have 
done the best you could ? " she answered^ " If you 
are content, I am, dear love." 

Denise felt strongly drawn toward these people, as 
she witnessed their affection. She trembled, for she was 
sure that their ruin was inevitable ; but she dared not 
speak or interfere. It was at this time that she learned 
to comprehend the power of the new developments of 
trade which were revolutionizing Paris. Her ideas 
ripened ; a womanly grace was developed in her face 
and bearing, and the country girl vanished forever. 
Her life was a pleasant one, in spite of her fatigue and 
inadequate salary. After spending the long day on her 
feet, she hurried back to P^p^, whom old Bonnat con- 
tinued to care for and feed ; but there was always some- 
thing for her to do, a shirt to wash, a blouse to mend, 
while the noise he made with his sturdy feet nearly 
drove her wild. She never went to bed before mid- 
night. Sunday was her day of hardest work. She 
cleaned her room and mended her clothes, — was so busy 
in fact, that she rarely dressed until five o'clock. 

Nevertheless, tired as she was, she took the boy out 
for a long walk, sometimes as far as Neuilly; there 
they had a feast of fresh milk at a dairy, where they 
were allowed to sit down and rest. Digitized by C^OOgle 


Jean disdained these parties ; he occasionally showed 
himself during the week, but did not stay long, saying 
that he had other visits to pay. He never asked for 
money, but looked at times extremely melancholy. His 
sister would then show her anxiety by her questions 
and generally gave him a five franc piece which she 
had saved up, sou by sou. This was her extravagance. 

" Five francs I " cried Jean each time. " You are 
far too good. There is, to be sure, the wife of the 
paper-hanger — " 

"Hush!" interrupted Denise. "I do not wish to 
know." He fancied that she was accusing him of boast- 
ing, and tried to explain, but she silenced him once more. 

Three months elapsed. Spring had come again, but 
Denise refused to pay another visit to Joinville with 
Pauline and Baugh. She met them sometimes in the 
Rue Saint-Roch, when she came out of Robineau's. 

Pauline, when one evening she met her alone, con- 
fided to her that she should probably marry her lover, 
— ^it was she who was hesitating, as at the Bonheur^ 
they did not like their saleswomen to be married. 
This idea surprised Denise, and she did not venture 
to offer her friend any advice. 

One day Colomban stopped her on the Square 
and implored her to ask her old companion, Clara, 
to marry him. 

What was the matter with them all ? Why should 
they torment her thus? She was thankful that she 
loved no one. 

" You have heard the news ? " cried Bonnat, when 

, ^ . . Digitized by VjOOQTC 

she went m one evening. o 


" No, I have heard nothing." 

** The rascals have bought the Hotel next door," and 
he waved his arms about, and his white mane rose in 
his rage. 

" The H8tel belonged to the CrSdit Immohilier^ and 
the President, Baron Hartmann, has sold it to that 
scamp Mouret. Now they have me on the right and 
on the left, as well as in the rear,— do you understand ?" 

He was quite right ; the papers had been signed the 
previous evening, and the little house of Bonnat's cling- 
ing to the wall of the Bonheur like a swallow's nest, 
would be annihilated when the buildings were con- 
nected, for the Colossus would not be stayed by this 
trifling obstacle. Bonnat felt as if he were in the coils 
of a sei*pent. He seemed to hear the walls of his shop 
crack and diminish before his gaze. 

" Do you hear those people ? " he cried. " They are 
taking my walls away. Up stairs and in the cellar it 
is the same thing, as if saws were going through the 
plaster. They are trying to flatten me out like a sheet 
of paper, but I shall stay here all the same, even if they 
take off the roof, and the rain comes in on my bed." 

It was at this moment that Mouret made new prop- 
ositions to Bonnat. He offered to buy him out for 
fifty thousand francs. This offer redoubled the wrath 
of the old man ; he refused with insults. " Did these 
scoundrels rob everybody so successfully," he asked, 
*'that they could afford to pay fifteen thousand francs 
for what was not worth ten?" And he defended his 
shop as vigorously as an honest woman^ de^i^g^Jl^ 
virtue. ^ 

THE "^ONHl^U^ D^S I?4^M]5§/* 273 

Denise saw that Bonnat wa^ very thoughtful for 
nearly a fortnight. He wandered about? restlessly, 
measured the walls of the shop, and then going out 
into the street, examined it with the air of an architect. 

Finally one morning, a number of workmen arrived. 
The battle had begun ; he really meant to fight with 
the Bonheur on its own ground by making concessions 
to modern luxury. Customers who had found fault 
with his dark shop should see it all bright with paint 
and plate glass. The facade was actually renovated, 
and the woodwork painted bright green. He even 
pushed his splendor so far as to gild his sign. Three 
thousand francs which the old man had carefully laid 
aside, vanished like dust. The whole quarticr was in 
a state of excitement, and people came to see him amid 
his new surroundings. He did not feel in the least at 
home in this glittering frame, and as he sat behind the 
large window was not at all pleased to be seen, while 
he carved his handles or gesticuljited wildly, as he 

The campaign against the Bonheur des Dames went 
on with him much as it had with Robineau. He had 
just launched his new invention, Vvhich later became 
very popular. The Bonheur at once seized and im- 
proved upon it. Then there was a contest in regard 
to the price. He had one style in zanella with steel 
wires, and ticketed '* woa't wear out I " It was sold at 
one franc eighty-five centimes. But he astonished 
his customers with his varieties of handles — ^bamboo, 
olive wood, myrtle and orange, while the Bonheur^ 
less artistic, paid more attention to t^i^ecp^vering' ^ 

274 THE "bonheur bes dames." 

than the handles. And the bird of victory perched 
upon their banner. 

The old man in despair declared that there was no 
artistic sense left in the world, and that he should 
continue to carve his handles for pleasure alone, 
without the smallest hope of selling them. 

" It is my own fault," he said to Denise. " I never 
ought to have sold an umbrella at one franc ninety- 
five centimes. I might have known where such 
miserable truckling to new ideas would lead me. I 
followed the example of these brigands, and I deserve 
to fail." 

July was very warm. Denise suffered intensely in 
her stifling little room under the slates. Consequently 
when she left the shop at night, she took Pep^ into the 
garden of the Tuileries for a little fresh air, remaining 
there until the gates were closed. One evening, as she 
sat in the shadow of the chestnut trees, she started 
violently, for only a few steps away from her she saw 
a man whom, at a first glance, ^he took to be Huten, 
but presently her heart began to beat, for it was Mou- 
re t, who had dined across the Seine and was now on 
his way to Madame Desforges. He noticed the move- 
ment Denise made to avoid observation, and recognized 
her in spite of the gathering darkness. 

" Is that you, Mademoiselle ! " he said. 

Her astonishment that he condescended to stop, was 
so great that she did not reply. He smiled and tried 
to conceal his embarrassment under an air of amiable 

" You are still in Paris, then ? " pigi,,,, ^y Google 


"Yes, sir," she managed to stammer at last. She 
drew back as if to allow liim to pass, but he continued 
to walk by her side. The air was cool Jiiid fresh, and 
the laughing voices of children followed them at a 

" This is your brother, I suppose," and his eyes were 
fixed on P^pd, who, quite intimidated by the appear- 
ance of this gentleman, clung to his sister's hand. 

" Yes, it is P^pe," she said, with a blush, for the 
question aroused the memory of the abominable false- 
hoods told by Clara and Marguerite. 

Mouret understood the cause of the blush, for he 
instantly added : 

"Excuse me. Mademoiselle, I have apologies to 
make to you, and 1 should have been only too glad 
could I have expressed at an earlier date my regret 
for the great mistake that was made. You were 
accused far too lightly, and I wish now to say that 
every one at the Bonheur is to-day aware of the 
goodness and love you show to your brothers." 

He continued to talk with a politeness and respect 
to which the saleswomen of the Bonheur were totally 
unaccustomed from him. Denise became more and 
more embarrassed, but her heart danced with joy. 
He knew the truth at last ! knew that she had done 
no wrong. Neither of them spoke for some minutes; 
he still walked by herside, regulating his steps by tlie 
short, uneven ones of P^p^, and the stir of the great 
city was hushed under those old trees. 

"I have only one thing more to say. Mademoiselle," he 
resumed. " If you ever wish to return to the Bonheur — ^'* 

276 THE "bonheur des dames." 

She answered with feverish haste : 

*'No, indeed, sir. That is quite impossible. I 
thank you all the same, but I have found a situation 

He kuew this, for he had been recentl}- informed 
that she was with Robineau, and he began to talk of 
her employer with tranquil ease. He was a ver}' intel- 
ligent man, he said, bat nervous and excitable. He 
would go too far, and a catastrophe was certainly im- 
pending. Gaujean had been unwise, and he feared 
both would suffer. 

Then Denise, moved b}'^ his courteous familiarity, 
began to converse somewhat freely, and allowed him 
to see that she was on the side of thescvgreat establish- 
ments in the battle now entered upon, between them 
and the small shops. She became animated, and 
showed her familiarity with the question, and with 
broad and original ideas. He, greatly charmed, list- 
ened to her with surprise. He turned to look at her, 
trying to examine her face, though it was rapidly 
growing dark. She looked precisely the same, her 
face was as gentle, her costume as simple, but he was 
penetrated by a certain charm which he felt rather 
than saw. The girl had become a woman ; this intox- 
icating Paris had done its usual work, and she was 
bewildering, in her own sweet way. 

" Then, if you are on our side," he asked laughing, 
"why do you remain with our adversaries? Havel 
not heard, too, that you lodge with Bonnat?'* 

"A most excellent man ! " she murmured. 

" No, that he is not I He is an obstinate ^under^ 


head — a madman, who will compel me to turn him out 
of doors, when I would gladl}' get rid of him by offer- 
ing him a fortune. You should not live in his house, 
child — ^people reside there who are contaminating." 

But as he saw the girl's confusion, he hastened to 
add : 

" A woman can of course do right wherever she is 
placed, and it is all the more meritorious in her when 
she is not rich enough to choose her abode." 

He walked on a few steps in silence, P^p^ all 
attention, for he was an extremely precocious child. 
Occasionally he looked up at his sister, whose burn- 
ing, trembling hand astonished him. 

"Listen to me a moment," said Mouret, gaily. ** Will 
you be my ambassador? To-morrow I mean to in- 
crease my offer, and to propose eighty thousand francs 
to Boiinat. You must talk to him ; first you must rep- 
resent to him that his present policy is suicidal. He 
will perhaps listen to you, I am told that he sincerely 
respects you, and in this w«y you will be doing him a 
great service." 

*' So be it, then ! " answered Denise, smiling as she 
spoke. " I will execute the commission, but 1 have 
little hope of success." 

A long silence followed these words. They neither 
of them had anything more to say. 

He began to speak of Uncle Baudu, but he stopped 
short, seeing the girl's uneasiness. 

They continued to walk toward the Rue de Rivoli, 
and turned into a path which was still quite light. 
Coming from under the shade of the trees aroused 

278 THE "bonheur des dames 


hira to a sense of the improprietj' of detaining her 

" Good evening, Mademoiselle." 

" Good evening, sir." 

But he did not go. As he lifted his eyes, he saw- 
before him the lighted windows of Madame Desforges 
who was waiting for him, and then turning toward 
Denise he saw her plainly in the twilight. She was a 
slender, girlish creature; why did she affect him so 
strangely? It was a mere caprice, he thought. 

" This little boy looks very tired," he said, in order 
to say something. " Please remember that our House 
is always open to you. You have but to apply. Good 
night. Mademoiselle.'' 

" Good night, sir." 

When Mouret left her, Denise returned to the 
bhadow of the chestnut trees. She walked along in* 
an aimless way with a flushed face, and a brain all 

Pdp^, still hanging to her hand, trotted along at her 

She had forgotten him entirely, and finally he said : 

"You are going too fast, little mother." 

Then she dropped upon a bench, and as the child was 
really very weary, she held him on her knee and he 
fell asleep with his head pressed close against her 
virgin breast. She looked out upon the distance with 
a vague expression in her eyes. 

An hour later when she entered the presence of 
Bonnat, her face had resumed its usual tranquil, 
sensible expression oig.i.ed by <^OOgle 


"Zounds!" cried Bonnat, "that scoundrel of a 
Mouret has bought my house ! " 

He was entirely alone in the shop, and gesticulating 
with such violence that the very windows were in 

" Ah ! the miserable wretch! The fruiterer has just 
been in to tell me, and do you know how much he has 
got for his house? One hundred and fifty thousand 
francs, four times what it is worth. Was there ever such 
a thief as that man must be, to be able to pay such 
prices? Will you believe that this Mouret told him 
that my improvements added greatly to the value of 
the house 1 " 

Tliis idea that his money expended in embellish- 
ments had benefitted the fruiterer, piit the finishing 
touch to his rage. And now Mouret had become his 
landlord, and he must pay his rent to this man whom 
he hated so intensely. This was unendurable. 

"Ah! I heard them at work on the wall all night; 
one might as well try to sleep at a railway station." 

And he brought down his fist with such force on the 
counter that the umbrellas and parasols fairly danced. 

Denise, nearly stunned, found that it was impossible 
to speak. She waited for the end of this crisis while 
P^p^ fell asleep again on a chair. 

Finally, when Bonnat was a little calmer, she re- 
solved to execute Mouret's commission ; the old man 
was certainly in a most irritable mood, but the very 
excess of his anger might lead him to give an abrupt 

"I have just ijiet a person," she began, ^ 

S80 THJE "b6NHEUR t>tS t>AMES 


person belonging to the Bonheur^ who is thoroughly- 
well informed. It seems that to-morrow they intend 
to make you another offer — eighty thousand francs." 

He interrupted her with a roar. 

" Eighty thousand francs I Eighty thousand francs I 
No, not if they would give me a million I " 

She tried to reason with him. But as she spoke t)f 
his interests the door of the shop opened and she 
recoiled aghast and pale. It was Uncle Baudu with 
his yellow face and aged look. 

Bonnat caught his friend by the button of his coat, 
and shouted out in his face : 

" Do you know what they have the audacity to ojffei^ 
me ? Eighty thousand francs. They are all leagued 
together, the bandits ! They have bought the house, 
and they think they will buy me." 

" Then the news is true ? " said Baudu in his slow 
voice. " I came to find out." 

" Eighty thousand francs ! " repeated Bonnat. " Why 
not a hundred thousand ? Money is no object to them. 
Do they think they will induce me to commit a ras- 
cality ^vith their money ? They won't succeed, I can 
tell you ! No, never ! never ! " 

Denise now spoke in her usual calm tone : 

"They will have the house in nine years, though^ 
when your lease expires." 

And in spite of the presence of her uncle she im- 
plored the old maa to accept. 

The contest was useless, he was struggling against 

superior force, and could not without the sbteittst 

Uy refuse thi& proffered fortune. , Dig.zedbve.OOgle 


But he vehemently repeated his "no." In nine 
years he hoped to be dead. They never should have it 
while he lived. And he took the most frightful oaths. 

" You hear that, Monsieur Baudu, do you ? Your 
niece is in league with them, it is she who is deputed 
to corrupt me ! She sides with these brigands.*' 

The uncle up to this moment had pretended not to 
see Denise, but sulkily looked over her head, as he 
always did when she passed, and he was standing in his 
fehop door. But now he slowly turned and looked at 
her. His heavy mouth trembled. 

"I know it," lie said in a low tone. 

And he continued to look at her. Denise, moved to 
tears, thought him sadly changed. He perhaps was 
thinking with dull remorse that he had extended no 
helping hand, when she was in such distress as that 
through which she had just come. Then seeing P^p<S 
asleep on the chair, unmoved by all the mad uproar 
about him, he was touched. 

" Denise," he said quietly, " come with the child to 
dine with us to-morrow. My wife and Genevieve have 
begged me repeatedly to ask you, if we two should 
chance to meet." 

She blushed deeply and embraced him tenderly ; and 
when Baudu went away, Bonnat, quite delighted at 
this reconciliation, called out : 

" Punish her, she deserves it. But please remember 
that I stick here until the house crumbles under my 

*^ Our houses tae akeady ^mmbling, ^ikeighboi'," sa^' 

'Baitdjft gloomily. Digitized by CjOOg l€ 

282 THE "BONHEUB DBS dames. 


MEANWHILE all the quartier were talking about 
the avenue that was to be cut from the Bourse to 
the new Opera House, to be known under the name of 
the Rue Dix-Decembre. Judgment had been rendered 
and workmen were at work, in two bodies, at the two 
ends, one pulling down the old Hotel in the Rue Louis- 
le-Grand, the other throwing down the light walls 
of the old Vaudeville. The sound of the pick-axes 
was gradually approaching. Before a fortnight had 
elapsed the breach that was made inundated the 
whole quartier with sunshine. 

But the people were still more interested in the 
work going on at the Bonheur des Dames. There was 
much talk of important improvements, and a building 
with three fa9ades on the Hue de la Michodiere, nearer 
Saint' Augvstin. Mouret, they said, had entered into 
an agreement with Baron Hartmann, President of the 
Credit Immobilier^ and would build on all these vacant 
lots except those where the Baron proposed to erect 
an addition to the Grand Hotel. People were moving 
out in all directions, old Bonnat alone was unmoved 
and intact, obstinately wedged in between the two 
high walls now covered with workmen. 

When the next day Denise with P^pd went to her 
uncle's, the street was crowded with carts, which were 


nnloading bricks before the old Hotel Duvillard. Uncle 
Baudu stood in his shop door mournfully looking on. 
It seemed to the young girl that her uncle's shop had 
never looked so dingy and so dirty ; the windows sug- 
gested a prison, and the whole facade was covered with 
green mould. 

" Look out," cried Baudu, " they won't mind walking 
over you ! " 

In the shop, Denise felt the same sinking of the heart. 
She found it very dark and more drowsy than ever. 
Empty shelves made dark holes and the dust lay thick 
on the counters and the cashier's desk, while a cellar- 
like odor came from the bales of cloth which were 
never moved. 

Madame Baudu and Genevidve sat silent and still at 
the desk, where no one went to disturb them. The 
mother was hemming towels. The girl, with her hands 
loosely folded on her knee, was looking out into space. 

"Good evening, aunt," said Denise. "I am glad to 
see you again, and if I have ever caused you a sorrow, 
forgive me." 

Madame Baudu kissed her, much moved. 

" My poor child," she answered, " if I had no other 
sorrows than those you cause me, you would find me 
very gay." 

" Good evening, cousin," said Denise, kissing Gene- 
vieve on the cheek. 

The girl started and awoke as from a dream. She 
returned her cousin's kiss, and the mother and daugh- 
ter embraced P6p6, who also extended his little arms. 

The reconciliation was complete. ^ig,,,, ,^ (^oogle 


" It is six o*clock," said Baudu, " why don't we go 
to dinner? Where is Jean, by the way ? " 

"He ought to be here," answered Denise, much 
embarrassed. "I saw him this morning and he gave me 
his promise. Oh! you must not wait, he has probably 
been detained by his employer." 

She expected to hear some extraordinary excuse 
from Jean, and she thought it advisable to anticipate it. 

"Now then, let us have some dinner," repeated 
Uncle Baudu. 

Then turning to a dark angle of the shop he said: 

"Come Colomban, dine with us to-day, there will be 
no one in the shop." 

Denise had not perceived the head clerk. Her aunt 
explained that they had been obliged to dismiss the 
other salesmen and the young lady also. Business was 
so poor that Colomban was all that was required, and 
he himself spent many unoccupied hours half asleep. 

In the dining-room the gas was burning, although it 
was now the longest days of summer. 

Denise shivered as she entered, for a chill seemed to 
fall on her shoulders from the wall. There stood the 
well remembered table, with its oilcloth cover, and the 
window open into the ill-smelling courtyard. 

Everything here, as well as in the shop, looked 
darker and drearier than ever. 

"Father," said Genevidve, suddenly annoyed for 
Denise, "shall I not shut the window? A vile smell 
conies in." ' 

But heiriather-didjiat perceire it, and looked <iuite 
surprised. -Digitized by (^OOgle 


"Shut the window if you wish," he said, "but we 
shall certainly suffocate." Which was pretty nearly 
the case. 

It was a family dinner, of frugal simplicit3'. After 
the soup, came the soup-meat with vegetables, and then 
the uncle began to talk of the people opposite. At 
first his remarks were quite mild, and he permitted his 
niece to indulge in an opinion opposite to his own. 

"You are free, of course, to think as you choose.. 
Everybody has a right to his own ideas. If you have 
not been embittered by being turned out of doors, it is, 
of course, because you have good reasons for liking 
these people. You will go back there some day, and 
then I shall never see you again." 

"Oh! no," murmured Madame Baudu. 

Denise quietly gave her reasons, as she had given 
them to Robineau — the logical evolution of commerce, 
the magnificence of the new creations, and finally, the 
welfare of the public. Baudu listened with raised 
eyes and parted lips. But when she finished, he shook 
his head. 

"All this is the wildest fancy. Commerce is com- 
merce, trade is trade ; there is no getting away from 
that fact. I grant you that they will succeed, for I 
have long waited to hear that they have broken their 
necks; but these robbers make their fortunes, while 
honest men die on the straw. This is the honest truth, 
and I am obliged to yield to facts, and I do yield to 

The old man had goaded himself into a terrific 
passion. He brandished his fork. Digitized by CjOOgle 

286 THE "bonheur des dames, 


" But I will not be beaten. My old shop shall stand 
until it crumbles from old age. I^told Bonnat some 
time figo, that his painting and gilding was a compact 
with the devil — " 

" Eat your dinner, dear," interrupted his wife, 
uneasy at the state of excitement he wai in. 

"Wait! I wish my niece to know my intentions. 
I am as steady as this carafe^ and I shall not budge. 
They will succeed; so much the worse for them! I 
can only protest." 

The servant brought in a bit of roast veal. He 
began to cut it with his trembling hands ; but his eye 
had lost its former accuracy, and he could no longer 
intuitively measure the portions. The consciousness of 
his defeat had deprived him of much of his former 
pomposity. As he had said, one force alone was left 
to him, that of innate obstinacy. He had resolved 
not to lift a finger, and to move neither to the right 
nor the left, to prevent the fall of his House. 

P^p^ supposed that his uncle was angr}'-, and trem- 
bled. It was necessary to reassure the child, by giving 
him a portion of dessert and all the biscuit in front 
of him. Then the uncle tried to lower his voice, and 
talk of other things. 

But presently the conversation veered toward the 
new street, of which he condescended to approve; it 
would certainl}^ bring business to the quartier. 

Then he began again to talk of the Bonheur. He 
said that the shop was virtually closed, because these 
stupendous carts blocked the way. 

In spite of his wife's entreating eyes, he, began to 

Digitized by VjOuQIC 


estimate the trade of the House. Was it not extraor- 
dinary ? In less than four years, they had doubled and 
quadrupled their capital; their annual receipts, for- 
merly eight million, had now reached the cipher of 
forty. It was wonderful, the madness of these people, 
and now they were to extend operations and employ 
more saleswomen, as well as more salesmen. They 
intended to have several new Departments — one of 
articles exclusively manufactured in Paris. Verily, 
these people were not proud; they would soon sell 

The uncle, while affecting to agree with Denise, was 
in reality opposed to all her ideas. 

" You cannot defend them. Would you like me to 
add a counter of saucepans to my business? You 
would simply think I was crazy. Admit that you have 
not much respect for their performances." 

And as the girl smiled in an embarrassed fashion, for 
she saw how useless it was to argue, he continued : 

" I plainly see you agree with them. We will, con- 
sequentljs say no more about the matter, for it is most 
unnecessary that we should quarrel ; that would be the 
last drop, to have them interfere between my family 
and myself. Go back to them, if you choose, but I 
forbid you to mention their names here again." 

Then followed a long silence. His violence had 
given place to this feverish resignation. As the heat 
of the room was intense, the servant had opened the 
window, and the dampness and foul smells of the 
courtyard were pouring in. Some fried potatoes' 
appeared, and were slowly eaten. Digitized by LjOOgle 

288 THE "bonhkur des dames." 

" Look at those two," said Baudu, pointing with his 
knife to Genevieve and Colomban. "Ask them if they 
like your Bonheur des Dames,^^ 

Side by side, in the same seats they had occupied 
daily for the last twelve years, sat Colomban and 
Genevieve. They had not uttered one syllable. He, 
exaggerating the heavy apathy of his face, seemed to 
vail with his heavy lids the interior flame that scorched 
him ; while she, paler than ever, with her head still 
more bowed under its masses of black hair, seemed 
prostrated by some secret grief. 

" Last year was a disastrous one," explained the 
uncle. "It was necessary to postpone their marriage. 
It was not a pleasant thing for them, you may be sure. 
Ask them what they think of your friends." 

Denise, to please her uncle, interrogated the young 

" I certainly have no reason to like them, dear 
cousin," answered Genevieve; "but do not be con- 
cerned, everybody does not detest them." 

And she looked at Colomban. He was rolling 
crumbs of bread between his fingers, and seemed 
absorbed in thought. When he suddenly realized that 
his fiancSe was looking at him, he burst out in violent 
expressions of wrath. 

" A miserable concern ! A set of scoundrels ! " 

"You hear that! You hear what he says!" cried 
Bjiudu, quite delighted. "He is one they will never 
win over. They have got the last of our family ! " 

But Genevidve with a pale, sad face, still continued 
to watch Colomban. Her persistent gaze disturbed^ 


him, and he broke out once more in violent invectives. 
Madame Baudu looked from one to the other of these 
two uneasily, as if she foresaw trouble there. For some 
time she had been anxious about her daughter, whose 
pallor had become almost unearthly. 

" The shop is alone," she said, at last rising from the 
table. '^ Look, Colombau, I think I heard some one 

They had all finished by this time. Baudu and Co- 
lomban went to talk with a commusionaire^ who had 
come to take orders. Madame Baudu took P^p^ away 
with her, and the servant began to clear the table, 
while Denise stood looking out into the court-yard. 
Genevidve had not moved from the place, but sat look- 
ing down on the oilcloth cover, still damp from the 
sponge with which it had been wiped down. 

" You are in trouble, cousin ? " said Denise. Gene- 
vieve did not reply ; her eyes were riveted on a crack 
in the cloth. Then she lifted her head almost as if it 
hurt her to do so, and looked up to this compassionate 
face bent over her. The others were all gone I What 
was she doing here ? All at once she burst into a pas- 
sionate flood of tears, and she threw herself half on the 
table, with her head on her arm. Presently her sleeve 
was quite wet with her tears. 

"What is it! " cried Denise, in great trouble. "Shall 
I call some one ? " 

Her cousin snatched her arm and stammered ner- 
vously : 

" No, no, stay here, don't let mamma know. I don't 
care if you know. It does not matter; but not th"^ 


others, — not the others ! I could not help it when I 
saw myself all alone ; wait here, I shall be better pres- 
ently," and new sobs shook her frail form. It seemed 
as if the heavy masses of black hair weighed down 
her poor head. As she rolled it on her folded arras 
the pins came out, and the hair tumbled all over her 
shoulders, enveloping her in its darkness. Denise 
quietly tried to soothe the poor child ; she unfastened 
her dress and was horrified at her emaciation. Denise 
gathered up her hair, — the superb hair that seemed 
to be exhausting her life, and knotted it firmly that 
it might not impede the air. 

" You are very kind," said Genevieve. " Am I not 
thin ? I was much stouter, but I lose flesh daily. Fasten 
my dress ; mamma will see my shoulders. Alas ! I am 
far from well ! Far from well ! " 

She repeated these words in a tone of resignation. 
The crisis was passing away, and the sobs became less 
choking. She sat in a crushed and broken attitude on 
a chair looking intently at her cousin. Presently she 
exclaimed : 

"Tell me the truth; does he love her?" Denise 
colored deeply. She was perfectly well aware that 
her cousin spoke of Clara and Colomban. But she 
affected great surprise. 

" Whom do you mean, dear ? " 

Genevieve shook her head increduously. "Do not lie, 
I beg of you. At least do me the service of telling me 
the truth. You ought to know it ; I feel it. Yes, you 
have been the companion of this woman, and I have 
seen Colomban pursue you and talk td^i^^feli-^^^fi- 


pers. He has given you messages for her. Tell me 
the truth. I assure you it will be of service to me." 

Never had Denise been in so awkward and embarrass- 
ing a position. She dropped her eyes and Genevieve 
instantly knew the truth ; but Denise made one des- 
perate effort to deceive her cousin. 

" But it is you that he loves," she said. 

Genevieve made a despairing gesture. 

" Very good, I see that you can tell me nothing. It 
does not matter, I have seen them. He is continually 
going out on the sidewalk to look up at her, and she 
nods and laughs back. Of course they meet at other 

" I don't believe it ! " cried Denise, carried away 
by her desire to give her cousin some consolation. 

The young girl panted for breath, she smiled 
faintly, then in the weak voice of a convalescent, she 

"Will you give me a glass of water? Excuse me 
for troubling you. It is there on the buffet." 

When the carafe was handed her, she drank a large 
glass full, while pushing Denise aside, for her cousin 
was afraid she would make herself ill. 

" No, no, let me have it all. I am always thirsty, I 
rise repeatedly in the night, for my throat is always 

After a long silence, she resumed, gently : 

" If you knew how for ten years I have thought of 
this marriage. I was wearing short dresses when I 
first knew that I loved Colomban. I can hardly te^ 
how it came about. We were always togeth^ the^ 

292 THE "bonheur des dames." 

had no outside distractions, and I almost looked upon 
him as my husband, and now he cares for another 
woman 1 Ah 1 my heart is breaking and I feel that I 
am dying." 

Tears filled her eyes* Denise, whose lashes were 
also wet, said softly : 

" Do you think your mother suspects ? " 

*' She knows, I am sure. As to papa, he is in such 
perpetual anxiety, that he has no idea how much it 
has cost me to have this marriage so often postponed. 
Mamma has questioned me many times, and is evidently 
concerned, and thinks me ill. She is never strong 
herself, and sometimes she says, *my poor child, if my 
own health had been better, you would have been 
stronger.' Then too, these shops are not very healthy. 
Do you see how thin I am ? Look at my arms." 

With a trembling hand she lifted the carafe again. 
Her cousin tried to take it from her. 

" No, no, I am thirsty, let me be." 

Baudu's voice was heard. Then yielding to her 
impulse, Denise knelt and surrounded her cousin with 
her tender, loving arms, kissing her, she told her all 
would go well and that she would certainly marry 
Colomban ; her health would be restored, and all 
would be happy. 

Her uncle called her. 

" Jean is here ; come, he wants you." 

It was Jean, and Jean had come for his dinner I 
Whan he was told that the clock had struck eight he 
was utterly confounded ; it could not be possible, he 
se^u^iist left his employer's. They all laughed at hica, 


but as sooii as she approached his sister, he whispered 
in her ear : 

" It was the little washerwoman who kept me, she is 
outside in a carriage now, I have had it an hour ; give 
me five francs quick." 

He ran out and returned immediately; his aunt 
insisted on his eating something, if it were only a bowl 
of soup. GeneviSve reappeared, wrapped in her usual 
profound silence ; Colomban was half asleep behind a 

The evening passed slowly and sadly, enlivened 
only by the measured steps of the uncle, who slowly 
walked up and down the shop lighted by one solitary 
gas burner. 

Months passed on ; Denise c^me in almost every day 
to brighten Genevifive. But the Baudus became 
sadder and sadder. The building opposite was a con- 
tinual annoyance to them, and if by any chance they 
forgot it, a sudden fall of brick and mortar, or a 
mason's call recalled them to all the old bitterness. 

The whole quartier was interested in the building. 
The architect was putting up a central gallery as 
large as a church, fronting on the Rue Neuve-Saint- 
Augustin ; at first great diflBculty had been found in 
arranging the basements, for old sewers had been dis- 
covered and vast accumulations of human bones as 
well, but these obstacles had been successfully com- 
bated and the walls were now up^s far as the second 
floor. Scaffoldings enclosed them all, from whence 
eame a perpetual clamor of voices, hammering and thee 
clatter of mason's trowels. But above all rose the 

294 THE "bonheur des dames." 

sound of machinery, for everything that was possible 
was done by steam, while with every pufif of wind 
came a cloud of plaster, that fell on all the neighbor- 
ing roofs like snow. 

The Baudus watched this penetrating dust coming 
through their close shut windows, ruining their woolen 
goods, and the idea that they were themselves breath- 
ing it and that it was shortening their lives, poisoned 
every moment of their existence. 

The situation was becoming more annoying. In 
September the architect, fearing that he could not carry 
out his contract, decided to work in the night. Power- 
ful electric lights were set up, and the noise never 
ceased night nor day. The poor Baudus could get no 
sleep, and when, restless and miserable after tossing to 
and fro, they would rise from their beds and go to the 
window to calm their fever, they, raising their curtains, 
stood aghast before the sight of the Bonheur dea 
Dame8 all ablaze, like a colossal forge. Electric lights 
dazzled and blinded them ; as if fascinated, these poor 
dazed people lingered at the windows until the clocks 
struck two, three and four, watching the colossal work 
and the shadows of the workmen as they hurried to 
and fro. 

As Uncle Baudu had said, the petty trade of the 
neighborhood was utterly ruined. Each time that a 
new branch was established in the Bonheur^ there were 
new failures among the smaller tradesmen, and even 
larger shops now began to be affected. Mademoiselle 
Faten, in the Passage Choiseul, went into bankruptcy. 
Quinette, the glover, lingered a little longer, whie 


Bedor^ and his sisters who sold stockings, were evi- 
dently living on their savings. 

It was hard on the furniture dealers, who, however, 
affected to laugh at dry goods people, selling tables 
and wardrobes, but they saw their customers leaving 
them already, and the success of the new Department 
was evidently assured. Before long, they said despon- 
dently, the roof of the Bonheur would cover the whole 

At present, when morning and night the thousand 
employes of the Bonheur went in and came out, peo- 
ple stopped to look at them, as one would at a regi- 
ment. For ten minutes the sidewalks were crowded, 
and the shop-keepers standing at their doors, thought 
of the one salesman whom they with difficulty paid 
and fed. The last declaration made by the Bonheur of 
forty million revolutionized the neighborhood. It was 
repeated from house to house with cries of surprise 
and anger. Forty millions ! Think of it ! 

The net result must be at least four per cent, in 
spite of their enormous expenses. And they told 
how Mouret's original capital was but five hundred 
thousand francs, which had rolled up and up. 

Robineau, as he made the calculation before Denise 
one day after dinner, was absolutely stunned. The girl 
was right after all ; it was the constant turning over 
of capital that lay at the foundation of the invincible 
force of modern commerce. Bonnat was, nevertheless, 
unconvinced, and refused to recognize this fact. They 
were a band of robbers, that was all. A lying set I p 
Charlatans, who would find themselves in the gutter 


Bonie fine raorning. The Baudus, in spite of their 
desire to make no change in the old customs of their 
establishment, were compelled, as customers would not 
come to them, to send to the customers, through agents. 
There was one man on the Place de Faris^ who was in 
communication with all the tailors, and who at this 
time came to the rescue of the small shops that sold 
cloths and flannels. He of course, had become a most 
important person, and 'pone ventured to dispute his 
terms. Baudu, however, did so, and the man declined 
to undertake any further transactions in his behalf. 

Two men whom Baudu subsequently employed, 
stole from him, and a third, who was honest enough, 
did nothing. 

Baudu saw every customer and every means of 
support slowly slipping from him, and finally debts 
began to accumulate. In December he was so startled 
by the number of his notes out, that he resigned 
himself to the most cruel of sacrifices; he sold his 
country house at Rambouillet, — a house that had been 
a continual bill of expense to him, and for which he 
had never been able to procure a steady, reliable 

This sale ended the one pleasurable dream of his 
life, and his heart bled over it as at the death of a 
loved one. 

He sold for seventy thousand francs, this property 
which had cost him over two hundred thousand. He 
was fortunate in selling it at all, and did so because 
Madame Aur^lie,'who was his next neighbor, wished 
to add to her estate. This seventy thousand francs 

THE ^^BONHKUR DES D A M E s/' 297 

would enable them to keep up the battle some time 
longer, for in spite of everything, Baudu was by no 
means disposed to relinquish the contest and acknowl- 
edge himself beaten. 

The Sunday that Madame Aurdlie paid the money 
they were to dine with the Baudus. She was the first 
to appear, but her husband was late, having been en- 
ticed away by an afternoon of music. Young Albert 
had accepted the invitation, but did not come. 

It was a most painful evening. The Baudus living 
without air in their close dining-room, were crushed by 
the L'Hommes, who were accustomed to freedom and a 
certain amount of out-of-door life. Genevieve, wound- 
ed by Madame Aur^lie's magnificence, did not open 
her lips, while Colomban sat awed and thrilled by the 
thought that she reigned over Clara. Before going to 
bed that night, Baudu paced his room for an hour. It 
was cold and raining, but through the closed windows 
came the perpetual sounds made by the workmen. 

Madame Baudu was in bed. 

"Do you know what I am thinking, Elizabeth?" he 
said at last. " These L'Hommes are making a great 
deal of money. I know that, but I would rather be in 
my skin than theirs. They are succeeding, it is true. 
Did not that woman say that she had made seventy 
thousand francs this last year, and was therefore, able 
to buy our house ? But all the same, they are not 
happy." He was still suffering from the sacrifice he 
had made, and felt a sudden rancor against these 
people who had marred his beautiful dream. ia|e 

When he reached the bed he stopped and gesti^ 

298 THE "bonhkur des dames." 

lated, and when he reached the window he stood 
there to listen to the clamor of the workmen. He 
resumed his old complaints, and the expression of his 
despair and wonder at the new fashions in which busi- 
ness was carried on. Who had ever heard of such a 
thing as saleswomen making money in this wa3% 
enough to buy the property of the employers ! There 
was no such thing either as family ties ; people lived 
at Hotels in these days, instead of eating their meals 
under th^ir own roofs. He ended his discourse by the 
assertion that Albert would devour the estate at Ram- 
bouillet with his actresses. 

Madame Baudu listened with her head on her pil- 
low and her face as white as the linen about it. 

"They have paid you, at all events," she said gently. 

Baudu stopped short, and stood with his eyes on 
the ground for a minute. 

" Yes," he said at last, "yes, the)^ have paid me, and 
their money of course is as good as that of any one else. 
It would be a good joke if I were to build up this House 
again with that mone}'. I would try it, were I not so 
old and so worn out." A long silence reigned. The 
draper was absorbed in vague projects. Suddenly his 
wife spoke with eyes riveted on the ceiling : 

" Have you noticed your daughter lately ? " 

" My daughter ? No, — " he answered. 

" Well, she makes me very uneasy. She is always 
pale, always weary, and seems in terribly low spirits." 

He went nearer the bed, and exclaimed in surprise : 

" What is the matter with her ? If she is ill she 
ought to say so and have a doctor.'^^i^'^'^^y^^^g'^ 


Madame Baudu did not speak for a moment, and 
then said in her usual quiet manner : 

"I think it would be wise if this marriage took 
place immediately." 

He looked at her and then turned on his heel and 
walked away. Was his daughter ill, was she unhappy 
because this marriage had been postponed? Was a 
new misfoi-tune threatening him in this direction? 

He was greatly disturbed ; all the more because he 
had his own opinion about the marriage. He did not 
wish it to take place under the present condition of 
things. Still, his anxiety caused him to wav^r in this 

" Very well," he said finally, " I will speak to Co- 

And without another word he continued to pace the 
room. Soon his wife's eyes closed. She looked, as she 
lay there asleep, as if she were already dead. 

Before. her husband retired, he lifted the curtain 
and looked out. On the other side of the way the 
workmen were busy under the electric lights. 

Early the next morning Baudu met Colomban in the 
shop. . He had decided just what he would say. 

"My boy," he began, "you know I have sold my 
property at Rambouillet, and I have something to say 
to you." 

The young man, who did not seem to be gratified by 
the prospect of this conversation, waited in an awk- 
ward 'sort of way. His little eyes winked, and his 
mouth was open, which signs indicated great perturba- 
tion of spirit. ° 9' '^^^ ^y Google 


**Yes, and listen to me attentively," continued the 
draper. "When my father*in-law, old Hanchecome, 
relinquished this business to me, the House was a 
prosperous one, — as much so as when he had received 
it from old Finet, his father-in-law. You know my 
ideas about it. I should consider myself doing a 
very shabby thing if I should hand down to my chil- 
dren this family inheritance in an impoverished con- 
dition, and this is why I have continually postponed 
your marriage with Genevidve. Yes, I have been 
very obstinate. I wanted to lay my books before 
you and »ay : 

" ' Look here ! The year I took the management of 
this House, we sold so many cloths. And this year 
when I hand it over to you, we have sold ten thousand 
or thirty thousand francs worth more.' 

"This was the oath I took to myself, and it seems 
only natural that I should wish to prove to you that 
the House has lost nothing while under my manage- 
ment. Otherwise it would seem to me that I had 
robbed you — " 

His voice was choked with emotion. He took out 
his handkerchief, blew his nose, and then added : 

" You say nothing ? " 

But Colomban had nothing to say. He shook his 
head and waited, more and more troubled, for he 
thought he understood what his employer meant. 
How could he marry Genevieve, when his heart and 
thoughts were pervaded by another. 

"This money," continued Baudu, "may save us. 
The situation is certainly becoming worse each day. 

THE "bonheur des dahes." 301 

but one supreme effort may be made. I wanted to 
warn you that this is our last struggle. If we are 
beaten we may as well be buried. Only, my poor 
boy, your marriage must be still further postponed, 
for I do not wish to drag you into all this trouble. It 
would be a mean act." 

Colomban was inexpressibly relieved, and sank on 
a pile of woolens. His limbs would not sustain him. 
He was afraid that his joy would be detected ; he 
dropped his eyes and played with his fingers. 

" You say nothing ? " repeated Baudu. 

No, he said nothing, for he had nothing to say. 

Then the draper continued slowly: 

" I was sure you would be distressed, but cheer up. 
Try and realize my position. Can I fasten such a paving- 
stone to your neck, my boy ? Instead of leaving you a 
good business, I might even entail upon you a failure. 
Only a rascal could do that. I desire your happiness, 
but I cannot run the risk of doing anything for which 
you would have a right to reproach me." 

He went on talking in this strain, becoming swamp- 
ed in a mass of contradictory phrases, like a man who 
wished to be compelled to do something of which he 
did not wholly approvie. As he had promised his 
daughter and his business, strict honesty demanded 
that both should be surrendered in good condition. 

But he was weary ; his burden had become almost 
intolerable, and there was a tone of entreaty in his 
trembling voice. The words became morie than ever 
unintelligible, and he waited anxiously for an outburst 
of affection from Colomban, but none came.^^"^^^ o 


"I know," continued Baudu in a low voice, "that 
the old are without lire, — with tlie young, flames are 
readily kindled, — that's only nature. But I cannot 
consent. If I yielded to you I should only reproach 
myself later." 

He held his breath to listen for the reply. None 
came, and as the young man held his head lower still, 
Baudu said for the third time, at the end of a long and 
painful silence : 

''You say nothing?" 

Then, without looking up, Colomban replied: 

" There's nothing to be said. You are the master, 
and you are wiser than any of us. We will try and 
do as you wish. We will wait patiently." 

Baudu still hoped that the young man would snatch 
his hand, urge him to reconsider his resolve, and say : 

" Father, you must rest ; we will struggle now, — it 
is our turn, give us the shop as it stands, and let us try 
to save it ! " 

Then he looked at Colomban, and was seized with 
shame, and accused himself of wishing to dupe his 
children. The exaggerated honesty of an honorable 
merchant was aroused within him. This prudent 
young man was right. There is no sentiment in 
commerce— only figures. 

" Embrace me, my bo)''," he said in conclusion. '* It 
is settled, we must not think of the marriage for 
another year." 

That evening when alone in their chamber, Madame 
Baudu questioned her husband on the result of the 
conversation. He immediately went oflf >5h^S8Kmg 

THE " B O N n K U R D K S DAME S." 303 

eulogy of Colomban. An excellent fellow, — ^practical 
and of good principles ; incapable, moreover, of talking 
and laughing with the customers like those jackanapes 
at the Bonheur. No, he was a good fellow, — 

" But when will they be married ? " persisted Madame 

" Later on," he replied. " I wish to keep my prom- 
ises." She did not move, she did not expostulate ; but 
presently she said after a long silence : 

" Our child will die ! " 

Baudu was furious. It was he who would die if he 
was perpetually tormented in this way. Was it his 
fault? He loved his daughter tenderly, and would 
shed his blood for her, but he could not keep the 
shop going. Genevieve ought to have more sense, and 
a little patience. Colomban was safe, no one would 
steal him ! 

" I don't understand it ! " he said, " it is incredible 
in a girl who has been so well brought up ! " 

Madame Baudu said no more. She unquestionably 
divined the jealousy that tortured Genevieve, but she 
did not consider it advisable to confide in her husband. 
A certain womanly timidity prevented her from ap- 
proaching a subject so delicate. 

When he saw that she would say no more, he turned 
his anger against the people opposite, and threatened 
them with his fist. 

Denise was about to return to the Bonheur des 
Dames. She saw that the Robineaus, although com- 
pelled to reduce all their expenses, were most unwillin 
to dismiss her. Gaujean gave them long credit^S 


even o£Piered to lend them money, but they were 
afraid, and determined to keep their expenses down 
instead of borrowing. For the last fortnight Denise 
had been uncomfortable, because she could see that 
they were so, and she had made up her mind to tell 
them that she had secured a place elsewhere. 

It was a great relief. Madame Robineau embraced 
her with tears in her eyes, and said she parted with her 
with regret. 

But when the girl, in reply to a question, said she 
should return to Mouret's establishment, Kobineau 
turned very pale. 

*' You are right I " he at last exclaimed with some 

It was less easy to tell the same news to old Bonnat. 
Nevertheless Denise could not postpone her confession, 
and she trembled at the thought of his displeasure, for 
she was profoundly grateful for all his kindness. 
Bonnat had quieted down considerably ; carts encum- 
bered the street in front of his door, pickaxes were at 
work on his walls, and the canes and parasols in his 
shop were jarred until they danced. 

The architect, in order to connect the Departments in 
the shop with those now being created in the old Hotel 
Duvillard, had decided to make a passage under the 
little house that separated them. This house now 
belonged to Mouret, and the lease stated that the 
expense of all repairs should be borne by the tenant. 
Workmen therefore appeared one morning, and Bonnat 
was threatened with a fit of apoplexy. Was it not 
enough that the life should be squeezed out of him^n 


the left and the right, before and behind, but that they 
must undermine the very earth beneath his feet I He 
drove away the workmen and said he would appeal to 
the law. He was obliged to make all necessary repairs, 
he said, but these were not repairs. 

The quartier thought he would gain his suit, which 
would of course be long and expensive. 

The day that Denise had resolved to tell him of her 
new arrangements, he had been to his lawyer's. 

" Will you believe it I " he cried, as soon as he saw her, 
*^ they say that the house is not sold, and that the 
foundations are in need of repair. I should think they 
might be, after all they have been doing ! " 

Then when the young girl told him she was going, 
that she was to return to the Bonheur with a salary of 
one thousand francs, he was so startled, so over- 
whelmed that he could only lift his hands to heaven 
as he sank into his chair. 

" You I You ! " he stammered. " Then I am to be 
left alone ! " 

Presently he said : 

"And the child?'* 

"He will go back to Madame Gra^," answered 
Denise, " she loves him." 

He did not speak again. She would have much 
preferred to see him violent and abusive, but the sight 
of this silent, broken-hearted old man brought tears to 
her eyes. 

But he gathered himself together after a time, and 
began to talk loudly. 

" A thousand francs ! Of course you can't refuse a^ 


thousand francs. Go, leave me alone — alone, do you 
hear ? There is at least one who will not lick their 
boots 1 And tell them that I will win my suit, even if 
I pawn my last shirt 1 " 

Denise did not leave Robineau until the end of the 
month; she had seen Mouret, and all arrangements 
were made. One evening on returning from Robineau's 
she saw Deloche, who was standing under a porte- 
cochere waiting for her. He had just heard the good 
news of her return to the Bonheur^ the whole shop was 
talking of it, he said, and he began to tell her some of 
the gossip. 

" The women in the cloak room are none too well 
pleased," he said, and then interrupting himself: 

" By the way, you remember Clara, it seems that the 
manager you understand ? " 

He was red, and she, very pale, exclaimed : 

" Monsieur Mouret ! " 

"A queer taste, is it not ? A woman that looks like 
ahorse. That pale little girl at the lingerie counter 
who was his friend last year was very different. How- 
ever, that is his own affair." 

Denise, when she entered her room, felt faint and ill. 
It was because she had mounted the stairs too fast. 
Leaning from the window with closed eyes she had a 
sudden vision of Valognes, of the deserted streets, 
the stones half overgrown with grass she had seen 
from the window of her room for so many years, and 
she felt a passionate longing to take refuge in the for- 
getfulness and peace of the province; Paris irritated 
her, she hated the Bonheur des Damea^ and could not 


imagine why she had consented to go back. Cer- 
tainly she would be made to suffer there again; in 
fact she was suffering already, since she had seen 
Deloche. And finally a passsionate fit of weeping 
drove her from the window. She wept a long time, 
and afterward felt a little courage to live. 

The next day after breakfast, Eobineau having sent 
her out to attend to some business, she stopped at her 
uncle's as she was passing the door. Colomban was 
alone in the shop. The Baudus were at breakfast, for 
she heard the rattle of dishes and the noise of knives 
and forks. 

" You can go in," said the young man. 

But she laid her finger on her lip and drew him into 
a corner. 

" It is to you that I wish to speak," she said. " Have 
you no heart ? Do you not see that Genevieve loves 
you, — that she is dying?" 

She was shivering; all the excitement of the pre- 
vious evening had again assailed her. He, quite terri- 
fied by this sudden attack, could not find a word with 
which to reply. 

" Do you hear ? " she said. *> Genevieve knows that 
you love aiiother. She told me so with bitter tears. 
Ah ! poor child, she is so ill and so thin. Say, do you 
intend her to die like this?" 

** But she is not ill," he stammered. " I don't see 
what 1 can do. Besides, it is her father who has post- 
poned the marriage." 

Denise sharply told him that what he said was false. . 
One word from himself was all that was necessaf;^8^^ 


Her instinct had advised her that her uncle would 
yield only too gladly. 

Colomban's surprise at the idea of Genevifive's ill- 
ness was not feigned — ^he really had never suspected it, 
and it was to him a most unpleasant revelation ; but 
he did not see all the same, he said, why he should 
be reproached in this way. 

"And for such a woman!" resumed Denise, not 
taking the trouble to listen to what he said. " Have 
you any idea on what and whom you are lavishing 
your heart? I have never cared to say much about 
her until now, and I have continually avoided answer- 
ing your questions. But now I tell you that she is 
thoroughly wicked, and that she is laughing at you, and 
that she will never be more to you than she is to-day." 

He listened with a white face, and at each of these 
sentences which she uttered through her close-shut 
teeth, his lips trembled nervously. 

She, cruel and merciless, yielded to the passion that 
moved her, without any clear perception of what she 
was doing. 

" She is the friend of Monsieur Mouret I " she cried, 
in conclusion. " Do you know that ? " 

Her voice was choked ; she was now paler than he. 
The two stood looking at each other. 

Then he stammered huskily: 

" I love her 1" 

Denise was covered with shame. Why had she 
spoken thus to this young man, and why had she been 
so passionate? She was silenced by these simple 
words that echoed through her heart like the sound of 


a joyous bell. He was right. He could not marry 

As she turned away, she saw Genevieve standing in 
the door of the dining-room. 

" Hush I " she said quickly, to Colomban, but it was 
too late. GeneyiSve had heard ; she was as white as 

A customer appeared at that moment, Madame 
Bourdelais, one of the last adherents to the old shop. 
She was always sure of finding good materials here. 

Madame Boves had left them long since, and follow* 
ing the fashion, frequented the Bonheur. Madame 
Marly was also fascinated by the seductions opposite. 

Genevieve was now forced to advance, and say in 
her faint voice : 

" What can I show you, Madame ? " 

Madame Bourdelais wanted some flannel. Colom- 
ban took down one piece, and Genevidve showed it, 
their cold hands touching each other. 

Baudu came out smiling from the dining-room, pre- 
ceded by his wife, who took her usual seat at the desk. 
But Baudu did not interfere with the sale of the flan- 
nel. He nodded to Denise kindly. 

"This is not nice enough," said the lady; "show 
me something better." 

Colomban took down another piece. Madame 
Bourdelais examined the "quality. 

"How much? " she asked. 

"Six francs, Madame," GeneviSve answered. 

"Six francs I But they have the same across togle 
street for five.'* . 


Bauda frowned/ He could not refrain from inter- 
fering. He said politely that Madame must be mis- 
taken ; " this article ought to sell for six francs fifty. 
It was impossible to sell it for five francs." 

" No," she answered, with the obstinacy of a woman 
who does not mean to be cheated, ^^it is the same 
thing, unless the other is a trifle thicker." 

The discussion threatened to become lively. Baudu's 
face flushed, but he tried to smile. His bitterness 
against the Bonheur caused the bile to rise in his throat. 

"Really," said Madame Bourdelais, "you ought to 
treat me better, unless you wish me to go with all the 
others, to the shop opposite." 

He lost his head, and cried hotly : 

" Go, if you choose." 

She instantly rose, and deeply wounded, said quietly : 

" That is what I propose to do, sir." 

There was a profound silence in the shop. The 
violence of the master had startled every one. He 
himself trembled at what he had said. The words 
had come from his lips almost without any intention of 
speaking, and were the result of long-restrained anger. 
And now the Baudus stood silent and stupefied, 
watching Madame Bourdelais as she crossed the street. 
It was not until she vanished inside the door of the 
Bonheur that they breathed again. 

"Another has left us," murmured the draper. Then 
turning toward Denise, of whose new plans he had only 
just heard, he said : " And they have taken you back ? 
Go, I wish to have nothing more to do with you. They 
have money and can do more for you than 11" 

THi: "bonhetjr des pamks." 311 

Denise, still hoping that Genevieve had not heard 
Colomban's words, was at this moment whispering in 
her ear : 

" He loves you. Try and be more cheerful." 

But the young girl answered : 

" Why are you so false ? Look at him, he is even now 
gazing up at the window. They have stolen him as 
well as every one, and every thing else from us." 

And she moved away and took her seat by the side 
of her mother, who had probably divined the new 
sorrow endured by her daughter, for her sad eyes 
wandered from her to Colomban and then to the 

It was true. They had lost everything. The father 
his fortune, the mother her child, who was dying before 
her eyes, and the daughter, the husband for whom she 
had been waiting ten years. 

Denise, standing in the presence of this unfortunate 
family, felt as if she were doing wrong in putting her 
hand to the machine that was grinding them to powder. 

"Pshaw!" resumed Baudu, trying to speak gaily. 
" We shall not die of this. We lose one client, but we 
shall have ten in her place ! Listen to me, Denise, I 
have seventy thousand francs ; and I mean to make 
your dear Mouret very miserable with them. Cheer 
up friends, don't look as if you had just come from a 

But he could not enliven them, and he himself sank 
into depression. They all gazed on the monster in 
front of them. The work was nearly completed, the 
scaffolding was being removed from the front of thi 


edifice, and eight huge vans were being filled for the 
noon delivery ; the highly varnished panels, picked out 
with yellow and red, sent blinding reflections into the 
Baudus' shop. The coachmen in their black clothes, 
trim and erect, held their horses well in, while the 
animals shook their heads impatiently. Each time 
one of these wagons drove away full, the pavement 
trembled and shook the little shops in the neighbor- 

The hearts of the Baudus were nearly broken at the 
sight of this triumphal procession. The father asked 
himself where all this merchandise could be going, 
while the mother, troubled by her daughter's illness, 
gazed through her tears at the inevitable ruin ap- 

Digitized by 




ON Monday, March 14th, the Bonheur des Dames 
opened its new buildings with an exposition of 
summer novelties, which lasted three days. Without, 
a sharp north wind was blowing, and the people in 
the street, surprised at this return of winter, hurried 
on, btiitoned close in their overcoats. ^ 

There were eager faces at the glass doors and at the 
windows of the shops in the neighborhood. They 
were busy counting the carriages before the new door 
on the Rue Neuve Saint-Augustin. This door, as high 
and wide as that of a church, had above it a group, 
Industry and Commerce hand-in-hand, surrounded by a 
host of attributes. On either side stretched the new 
facades, as yet clean and white. 

As early as six o'clock, Mouret was down stairs to 
give his last orders. A long gallery ran from end to end 
of the new building ; this was crossed by two narrower 
galleries. The court-yards had been enclosed with glass, 
while iron bridges were thrown occasionally across. 
The architect, who was young and intelligent, had used 
stone very sparingly, but had employed iron in all its 
forms; iron columns supported the arches and the roof. 
Air and space seemed to have been his first calculation. 
It was the Cathedral of modem commercej soM^lu 
light. " '" '' ^ 

314 THE "bokheur des dames/' 

Under the central gallery were the counters for 
cravats, gloves, hose, etc. Above, were lingerie^ shawls, 
laces and many other things, and on the next floor 
carpets and furniture. At this time there were 
thirty-nine Departments and eighteen hundred em- 
ployes, of whom two hundred were women. 

Mouret had great regard for women. He wished 
them to reign in his mansion. He had built them a 
Temple where he could hold them at his mercy. His 
principal idea was to tempt them with novelties. He 
had built two elevators to save delicate women the 
trouble and fatigue of mounting the stairs. He liad 
opened a lunch room, where syrups and biscuits were 
, given gratuitously to customers, and there was also a 
. picture gallery. But his cleverest idea perhaps, was 
that of gaining mothers through their childien ; he 
speculated on every tender sentiment, and provided 
Departments especially for boys and girls, and children 
were presented with colored balloons. This was a 
master stroke, these balloons which were given to every 
purchaser. They were red, and had the name of the 
House on one side, and floated in the air held by a 
string, through half the streets in Paris that day. 

Publicity was one of Mouret's secrets of power. He 
expended nine hundred thousand francs every year in 
handbills, placards and advertisements. He had sent 
out two hundred thousand catalogues for his summer 
opening, of which fifty thousand were in* foreign 
tongues. He had illustrated these catalogues with 
engravings and even with samples. The Bonheur dea 
Dames stared the public in the face at every turn. Its 


placards were on the comers, and on the very drop- 
curtain at the theatre. 

His belief was, that women could- not resist publicity, 
and invariably followed after noise. He had moreover, 
discovered that bargains were dear to the hearts of 
women, that they bought things they did not need, 
merely because they were cheap ; and upon this obser- 
vation he based his system of diminution of prices, and 
perpetually reduced the prices of the articles remaining 
unsold, preferring to sell them at a loss, remaining 
faithful to his principle of renewing his merchandise as 
often as possible. 

Then he had learned another secret. He allowed 
his customers to return, and exchange what they bought. 
" Take it, Madame ; you can return it, if on examination 
at home it ceases to please you." 

And the woman who had resisted all other tempta- 
tions found in these words a last excuse, and thought 
it possible she could retrace her steps when convinced 
that she had been foolish. She took the articles and 
went away with a heart at ease. 

But where Mouret revealed his masterly ability more 
clearly than elsewhere, was in the interior arrangement 
of his establishment. He issued a fiat that not a 
corner in the Bonheur det Dames should be deserted ; 
he insisted on noise, a crowd and excitement, for these 
draw. In the first place, he wished the whole street 
to suppose that his shop was overcrowded. He the' 
fore placed near the door, boxes and baskets con^ 
ing articles greatly under their value, to induce pc . 
to linger there, leading tbosd outside to believe ^ 


the shop was crowded, at a time when few people 
were there. He placed on the third floor carpets and 
furniture for the customers who came, for there were 
few. Had these articles been sold on the rez de 
chauB9Se they would have drawn a crowd. He would 
really have liked to carry a street directly through the 

Mouret was very busy this Monday morning, for on 
Saturday night he had been disturbed by the sudden 
conviction, while looking at the completed arrange- 
ments for the next week, that he had made a great 
mistake in his classification of the Departments, and yet 
it was clearly managed ; materials on one side, made up 
articles on the other, an arrangement which the most 
ordinary intellect would grasp. He had studied out 
this plan in other days, in Madame H^douin's narrow 
quarters, and when able, had carried it into execution. 
Now he suddenly called out: 

"All this is to be changed I " 

They had but forty-eight hours, and a large portion 
of the goods were to be moved. Everybody was ex- 
cited. Two nights and a day were spent in confusion. 
Even on Monday morning, an hour before the opening, 
things were not in their place, and the clerks were in 
despair and consternation. 

" We must hurry 1 " cried Mouret, with the tranquil 
assurance of genius. "These costumes must be 
carried up stairs. One more effort, boys, and we 
shall be through ! " 

Bourdoucle had been at work since dawn, but he 
understood Mouret no better t^ian did the others, and ' 


he watched his friend uneasily. He did not dare ask 
a question at such a moment ; he was by no means sure 
how it would be received. 

Finally he ventured to say : 

^^ Is it absolutely necessary to upset everything at 
this time?'* 

Mouret shrugged his shoulders in silence, but when 
the other repeated his questions, he exploded : 

^^You want all your customers in one corner, do 
you? Can't you see what I wish to do? A woman 
comes in, she goes straight to the counter where she 
buys a dress, on to the next for a mantle, and then 
goes away without having seen anything, or being 
tempted to make other purchases." 

" But," said Bourdoucle, " now that you have scat- 
tered everything to the four winds of heaven, the 
clerks will walk their legs off taking the customers to 
and fro." 

Mourftt made a gesture of superb contempt. 

"They are young, and it will make them grow," 
he said. " Besides, it keeps up the idea of a crowd." 

He laughed, and then dropping his voice : 

" See here, Bourdoucle," he said, " in the first place, 
this incessant going and coming of our customers into 
every corner of the shop makes them appear double 
the number. In the next place, after a dress is bought 
and a lining is wanted, the customers are impressed by 
the size of the shop as they are carried through Depart- 
ment after Department, and finally in these varior 
Departments they yield to temptation, ^^^dg^J^^^t^ale 
thfey would otherwise never have seen." 

318 THE "bonheur des damejs/' 

Bourdoucle laughed at this, and Mouret, delighted at 
having won him over, called out to the men at work : 

" Well done, my friends I Now a few strokes of the 
broom and we are all right." 

As Mouret turned he saw Denise, who, coming down 
the stairs, stopped short at the sight of all this con- 

" What is going on ? " she murmured. 

Her surprise seemed to amuse Mouret. Denise had 
retunied to the Bonheur early in February, and was 
pleasantly surprised to find every one polite, almost 
respectful. Madame Aur^lie was especially courteous, 
Clara and Marguerite were resigned, and even Jouve 
bowed obsequiously, but seemed somewhat embarrassed. 
It had been quite enough for Mouret to say otie word 
to change the manners of all these people. And amid 
the general amiability, the girl was wounded only by 
the singular sadness of Deloche, and by Pauline's 
mysterious smiles. 

In the meantime Mouret was watching her. 

*'For whom are you looking?" he asked, suddenly. 

Denise had not seen him. She colored slightly. 
Since her return to the Bonheur she had received from 
him many marks of kindness, which had touched her 
deeply. Pauline, without her knowing why, had care- 
fully informed her of Mouret's affair with Clara, in all 
its details — things she knew, and things she suspected 
— and then added, that he had still another friend, a 
Madame Desforges, who was well known to the shop. 

These stories disturbed Denise, and ly:(^ug|it back all 
her old feelings of discomfort. 


** What is atl this confusion ? " asked the girl. 

Mouret did not reply to this question, but as he 
passed Denise he said to her, in rather a low voice : 

" Come to my office this evening. I wish to speak 
to you." 

She nodded slightly, without a word. But Bour- 
doucle had heard Mouret, and looked at him with a 
smile ; he even ventured to say, when they were alone : 

" Look out ! It will end in something serious." 

Mouret defended himself, hiding his emotion under 
an air of great carelessness. 

"No more jokes, my friend, on this point. The 
woman is not yet born who can make me serious ! " 

And as the shop was now thrown open, he moved 
away to inspect each Department once more. Bour- 
doucle shook his head. This Denise, simple and gentle - 
as she was, began to make him very uneasy. Once he 
had conquered her by taking the law into his own 
hand, and dismissing her ; but she had reappeared, and 
with quadrupled strength he felt. He now regarded 
her as a formidable rival, who should be treated with 
profound consideration — he was silently biding his 

Mouret met him below. 

" How is this ? " he said, angrily. " I told them to 
arrange the blue umbrellas as a border. Let all this be 
changed at once." 

He would listen to no excuses. A whole army of 
shop boys came to change the umbrellas. When cus- 
tomers began to come in, he ordered that room to b^ 
closed, and declared that it should remain so until the 


blue umbrellas were removed from the centre. Huten 
and Mignol came to see what was going on ; they pre- 
tended not to understand, being of an entirely different 
school. Finally the doors were thrown open, and the 
crush became so great, that policemen were called 
upon to disperse the crowd before the door. 

Mouret had counted rightly. The little lourgeoises 
and the grisettes were transfixed by the bargains 
offered in the street. There were calicos at five sous, 
and cambrics at seven, remnants of lace in the baskets 
at ten centimes, ribbons at five sous, garters at three, 
gloves and skirts, cotton hose and chemises. All dis- 
appeared as if devoured by the hungry crowd. In 
spite of the sharp air, the clerks who were selling out 
of doors, did not suffer. One stout woman went into 
hysterics, and two young girls were nearly suffocated. 

The crush continued to increase. About one o'clock 
the street was absolutely impassable. 

Madame de Boves, and her daughter Blanche, were 
trying to enter the shop, and suddenly beheld Madame 
Marly, who had her daughter also with her. 

" Was there ever anything so frightful ? " called one 
lady to the other. " I did not mean to come ; in fact I 
was ill in bed when I decided to go out for a little air." 

"It was much the sajne with me," said the other. 
**I promised my husband to go to see his sister at 
Montmartre. As I came by here I remembered that 
I needed a bit of braid and thought I might as well 
get it here as any where else. I don't mean to spend 
any money, though, for I really require nothing just 

now." Digitized by CjOOglC 


As these ladies talked, however, they watched for 
an opportunity to enter the door. 

"No, T will not go in," murmured Madame 
de Boves. "We must go away, Blanche, unless we 
desire to be crushed." 

But at the same time she allowed herself to be swept 
on with the crowd. . 

"Take .hold of my dress, Valentine," said the 
mother, " I never saw anything like it." 

These ladies were now in the midst of the current, 
and could not retreat. As rivers draw unto themselves 
all the wandering streams of the valley, the flood of 
customers sucked in the passing population. It was a 
pell-mell of ladies in silk, women in calico gowns, girls 
in caps, all animated by the same passion. A few men 
were in the crowd, but they were evidently ill at ease. 
A stout nurse lifted her charge high in the air. One 
woman was angry, and indulged in very bad language 
because her dress was torn. 

Madame Marly stood on tiptoe and slightly con- 
tracted her eyes to see into the shop. She drew a 
long breath of relief. 

" At last I " she said. 

These ladies now succeeded in releasing themselves. 
They were greatly surprised to find the central hall 
almost empty. But it seemed to them that they had 
stepped from winter into summer, or rather spring. 
While an icy wind whistled without, the Bonheur was 
gay with summer costumes and spring tints. 

" Look I " said Madame de Boves, gazing upward. 

It was the umbrellas that had attractg^ ^^I^C^^Ie 

822 THE "bonheub des dames/* 

tion. They were spread open like shields and buck- 
lers, and covered the entire walls. They hnng in gay 
festoons about the slender columns, and the stairs, and 
from the bridges, looking like gay Venetian lanterns 
lighted for some colossal fHe. In the corners were 
stars made of umbrellas, at thirty-nine sous, in pale 
tints, blue, cream white, violet, and rose, while over 
all were huge Japanese parasols, where golden dashes 
mingled with a crimson background. 

Madame Marly could find no words with which to 
express her admiration except — 

" It is Fairyland ! " 

These she repeated oyer and over again. Then 
turning to the riglit, she said : 

" This way for my braid ; I shall buy that, and then 
I must vanish." 

".I will go with you," said Madame de Boves. 
" Blanche, we will just go through the shop, that is 

But the ladies wandered about aimlessly. They 
turned to the left, but so many changes had been made 
that they did not know where to go. Under the 
galleries the heat was intense, and they were not 
disposed to linger there. They found themselves after 
awhile back at the door, where /Siere was a crowd 
coming in and another going out, — an interminable 
procession of women and children, over whom floated 
a cloud of red balloons. Forty thousand of these 
balloons were ready, and a certain number of shop* 
boys had the especial charge of their distribution. It 
looked as if the whole air were filled with 

Digitized by 



8oap- bubbles, reflecting the blaze of the Japanese 
umbrellas. The shop was illuminated with them. 

" It is a new world," said Madame de Boves. " I 
should never know where I was." 

These ladies could not remain in the doorway how- 
ever, bustled by the throng. Inspector Jouve fortu- 
nately discovered them, and came to their assistance. 
He stood in the vestibule, and seemed to have an in- 
stinctive consciousness of a thief among the women. 

Madame de Boves thanked him for summoning a 
shop-boy to lead the way, and Madame Marly turning, 
found that Valentine was no longer at her side. She 
was greatly •relieved however, when she beheld her 
standing at a table where cravats were displayed. 

** Oh ! mamma," murmured the girl, " look at these 
cravats, nineteen sous, and they have a bird embroider- 
ed in the corner." The clerk who had them in charge 
now began to extol their quality, swore they were all 
silk, and thrown on the market in consequence of the 
failure of the manufacturer — no such bargain could 
ever be found again. 

"Nineteen sous! is it possible?" cried Madame 
Marly. "I must have two, it can't ruin me." Mad- 
ame de Boves was however, quite disdainful. She 
detested being asked to buy, and a clerk who extolled 
,his wares disgusted her. Madame Marly did not 
understand this, she was of that class of women who 
like to lose their time in useless discussions. 

"Come," she said, "I must have my braid and then 
I am certainly going." 

As she made her way through the display of gloves ^ 


and foulards, she was again struck by the beauty of 
what she saw. The counters were like borders of 
flowers. From open boxes drooped foulard, scarlet as 
geraniums, milky white like petunias, golden yellow 
like chysanthemums, celestial blue like larkspurs, while 
above, wreathed on columns, were ribbons and fichus, 
their soft tints reflected in the mirrors. On tlie glove 
counter there was a Swiss cottage built entirely of 
gloves, a chef d^oBuvre of Mignol. 

" What can I show you, Madame ? " asked Mignol, 
when he saw Madame Marly glued to the ground before 
the ch&let. " There are gantB de Suede^ first quality, 
one franc, seventy-five centimes." 

As she shook her head, he continued : 

^^ Gants de Tyrol at one franc, seventy-five; gantB 
de Turin^ for children, and gloves embroidered in all 

"No, thanks, I do not require any just now," 
answered Madame Marly. 

But he felt that her voice softened, and at once 
laid before her the embroidered gloves. She bought a 
pair, and when Madame de Boves looked at her with a 
smile, she colored. 

"I am a simpleton, am I not? If I don't get my 
braid and depart, I am a lost woman ! " Unfortunately 
tUe crowd was so great at the counter where braids 
were sold, that she could not be waited upon. They 
were compelled to stand there for ten minutes, and 
were losing their tempers, when Madame Bourdelais 
and her three children appeared. The mother, with 
her tranquil air, said she wished to show the Bonhewr 


to her little people. Madeleine was ten, Edoiiard eight, 
Luoien four, and they all were in excellent spirits at 
this fulfilment of an old promise. 

" I must buy one of those red umbrellas," said Mad- 
ame Marly suddenly, for she was impatient at being 
detained here with nothing to do. 

She selected one at fourteen francs fifty. Madame 
Bourdelais, after looking at this purchase half reprov- 
ingly, said quietly : 

*' You make a mistake in being so prompt ; in a fort- 
night you would have got it for twelve francs. They 
wont catch me in that way 1 " 

And she went on to explain how she managed. She 
never purchased anything until the price was reduced, 
which it was sure to be before long. She declared 
moreover, with a touch of malice, that she never allow- 
ed these people to ma*ke a sou out of her. She said in 
conclusion, that she had promised her little ones to 
take them up stairs. 

"Come with us," she said, "you have plenty of 

The braid was forgotten, and Madame Marly yielded, 
but Madame de Boves refused, preferring to see more 
of the lower floor. Madame Bourdelais was looking for 
a stair-case when she perceived one of the elevators ; 
she pushed the children in, and Madame Marly and 
Valentine with herself, filled the little cage. The ex- 
amination of the mirrors and the velvet covered seats 
was so interesting that they did not notice the gentle 
motion of the machine. 

Another excitement awaited them. As they passed ^ 


the buffet, Madame Bourdelais stopped to gorge the 
children with syrup. It was a square room with a 
large counter ; at the two ends silvery fountains were 
dripping, and back of these were long rows of bottles. 
Three waiters were incessantly washing glasses. The 
crowd was immense; it seemed as if this gratuitous 
refreshment developed a latent gluttony in all these 

"^ Where are they?" cried Madame Bourdelais, 
finally disengaging, herself from the throng, and 
stooping to wipe the mouths of the children with her 

But she saw Madame Marly and Valentine at the 
end of a long gallery ; they were both absorbed in the 
examination of skirts. They were evidently carried 
away by the passion of buying, and were making no 
further resistance. Madame Bourdelais on reaching the 
reading-room placed Madeleine, Edouard and Lucien 
before the great table, then going to the book-case 
brought them a large volume of photographs to ex- 
amine at their leisure. 

The ceiling of this room was heavily gilded, at the 
ends monumental chimney-pieces faced each other. 
Second-rate pictures in very rich frames covered the 
walls; and between the columns, before each of the 
arches that overlooked the shop below, there were tall 
shrubs in Majolica vases. The people seated around 
the tables covered with newspapers, stationery and 
inkstands, were very quiet. A number of women had 
taken off their gloves and were writing letters on paper 
bearing the mark of the House. Several men com* 


fortably seated in arm-chairs were reading the news- 
papers. But most of the individuals in the room 
were doing nothing ; husbands were waiting for their 
wives, who were making their purchases in the various 
Departments, young and pretty women were waiting 
for the arrival of a lover with whom they had made an 
appointment, and old ladies were safely deposited here 
to be called for later. 

These people lazily looked through these arches - 
down on the lower floor, from which ascended a steady 
buzz of voices. 

** What! you here ! " cried Madame Bourdelais. "I 
did not recognize you." 

Near the children sat a lady whose face had been 
hidden by the open pages of a magazine. Tt was Madame 
Guibal, who seemed annoyed at the meeting, but she 
recovered her serenity and told how being utterly tired 
out she had come up to rest a little, and to escape the 
crowd. When Madame Bourdelais asked if she had 
come to make any purchases, she replied in her languid 
little way, half closing her eyes to conceal the selfish 
keenness of 'her expression: 

*'0h! no. On the. contrary I came to exchange 
things I bought two days since. A skirt and some 
portieres, but the crowd was so great that I could not 
get near the counter. " She talked on, saying how very 
convenient this establishment was in many ways, and 
that their willingness to allow goods to be exchanged 
was particularly agreeable to her, for she was, she con- 
fessed, only too apt to take a dislike to things when she 
once got them home. The fact was, she returned four 


out of every five purchases she made, and had become 
well known by her oddities and the perpetual discon- 
tent that induced her to bring articles back, one by 
one, after keeping them several days. 

While Madame Guibal talked she watchedHhe doors 
closely, and seemed decidedly relieved when Madame 
Bourdelais returned to her children, and began to ex- 
plain the photographs. Almost at the same moment 
Monsieur de Boves and Paul de Vallegnose entered. 
The Comte affected to be showing the young man the 
wonders of this great establishment, but he gave 
Madame Guibal one expressive glance that told vol- 
umes. She immediately, as if she had not seen him, 
became absorbed in her reading. 

"Hollo! Paul!" said a voice behind these gentle- 

It was Mouret, who seemed that day to be every- 
where at once. They shook hands with him and he 

" Has Madame de Boves done us the honor to come 

"Oh! no," answered the Comte, "she is not quite 
well. Nothing dangerous however." 

Suddenly he pretended to see Madame de Guibal. 
He went up to her, hat in hand, while the other two 
contented themselves with a profound salutation from 
a distance. 

She pretended to be greatly surprised. Paul smiled. 
He understood perfectly what was going on, and he 
told Mouret a little later how the Comte had met him 
in the street and fairly dragged him into the Bonheuri 


For a year Madame Guibal had been spending the 
Cerate's money freely. She never wrote to him, but met 
him in public places — in churches, museums and shops. 

"I am convinced," continued the young man, "that 
when his wife supposed him to be away on his last tour 
of inspection, and when he wrote letters that were 
postmarked Blois, Libourne, Tarbes, he was quietly 
ensconced in a little H8tel at Batignolles. Just watch 
him ! Was there ever anything so superb as his 
manners? Old France, my friend, old France I" 

** And your marriage will take place, when?" asked 

Paul, without taking his eyes from the Comte 
replied that they were waiting for the death of the 
aunt. Then with a triumphant air, he said: 

" Did you see that, he gave her a slip of paper, an 
address of course, and she took it with her honest, 
artless air. What a woman ! Upon my word, strange 
things go on under your roof." 

"Ah I" answered Mouret, "it is not my roof, it is 

Then he continued, in a jesting tone. Love, like 
swallows, brought happiness to a house. He knew all 
these women, knew very well why many of them 
wandered about his establishment, but if they did 
not buy anything, they at least imparted an air of 
life to the place. 

While he talked, he led his old friend to the door of 
the %alon opposite the central gallery. Behind them 
was the quiet reading room, whence came the scratch- 
ing of nervous pens and the rustle of newspapers. Ogle 

330 THE "bonheur des dames." 

An old gentleman was asleep over the Moniteur^ 
Monsieur de Bove^ looked at the pictures with the 
evident intention of losing his future son-in-la>y in 
the crowd. Madame Bourdelais was as calmly gay and 
triumphant surrounded by her children, as if in a 
conquered territory. 

"You see how entirely at home they are!" said 
Mouret, waving his hand toward the various Depart- 
ments all crowded with women. 

Madame Desforges had at that moment entered the 
Bonheur, When she reached the grand gallery she 
stopped and looked up. It was like an enormous rail- 
way station, surrounded by galleries and connected by 
light bridges. The iron stair-cases were everywhere 
and every thing was so light, that it suggested lace 
rather than anything more solid. The young architect 
had had the courage and the sense not to disguise it 
with paint, and force it to imitate stone or wood. On 
the lower floor the decoration was very simple, in order 
not to injure the effect of the merchandise. But as 
the columns grew in height, they burst into flower, so 
to speak, while above, the ceiling was of the most 
brilliant tints, with a profusion of gold, which was also 
the predominant tints in the upper windows ; a band of 
gay tiles enlivened the frieze, the hand-rail of the stairs 
was red velvet, and was ornamented with a band of 
polished steel as bright as armor. 

Although all these details had been described to 
her, Madame Desforges had stopped* short, amazed at 
the glow and beauty of all she saw. The crowd surg- 
ing to and fro, was still strangely mixed, there were 


Ia(}ie8 in silks and velvet, ladies in deep mourning with 
heavy veils, nurses holding their infants high up out 
of danger, servants and grisettes in their fluted caps, 
while enormous mirrors multiplied all these forms and 
faces. Gilded chandeliers hung from the vaulted 
ceilings. Oriental stuffs and rich silks streamed forth 
like banners, creamy laces and transparent muslins 
fluttered here and there. 

** Shall I show you some garters, Madame ? " asked 
a salesman of Madame Desforges, when he saw that 
she was absolutely motionless. "They are wonder- 
fully cheap, only twenty-nine sous." 

The lady did not condescend to reply, but slowly 
turned to the left. She passed the desk of Albert 
L'Horame. He recognized her with an amiable smile, 
but she found some difficulty in entering the silk room. 
The red balloons still floated in the air, more numerous 
than ever, piling up like crimson clouds; she was 
obliged to stoop sometimes to avoid them, when the 
string that held them was wound around the plump 
hands of very little children. 

" Upon my word, Madame, you are very courageous," 
cried Bouthemont, as soon as he perceived Madame 

The " Chefde Comptoir^^^ introduced by Mouret him- 
self, often went to her house to take tea. She thought 
him extremely common, but very amiable and droll. 
He astonished but amused her. Tlie previous evening 
he had told her in very distinct terms of Mouret's 
affair with Clara, not out of malice, but simply as a 
capital joke, while she, devoured by jealousy, but 



hiding her wounds und«r the air of disdainful indif- 
ference, after brooding over his story, had now come to 
discover the girl whom he had designated simply as a 
young lady in the cloak room, and had refused to give 
her name. 

"Can I show you anything to-day?" he asked. 

" Of course ; have you foulards for matinees ? " She 
was determined to obtain from him the name of the 
girl in the cloak room, and equally determined to 
see her. 

He at once summoned Favier, and lingered himself 
until Favier could come, the latter being then engaged 
with " the pretty lady," — the beautiful blonde, whom 
every one in the shop knew by sight, but of whose 
name and position they were still ignorant. This time 
" the pretty lady " was in deep mourning. Who could 
she have lost, — a husband or a father ? Not her father 
they thought, or she would have looked sadder. She 
must be respectable if she had lost a husband. She 
might, to be sure, be in mourning for her mother, 
and for some minutes the clerks at the silk counter 
exchanged suppositions. 

" Make haste I " said Huten to Favier, who had taken 
the lady to the cashier's desk. " When this person is 
here you never get through. She must think you very 
ridiculous ! " 

"Not half so ridiculous as I think her! " answered 
the salesman, greatly vexed. 

But Huten threatened to report him if he spoke 
of the customers with such disrespect. Huten had 
become extremely severe ever since he had taken Robi- 


neau's place, and in fact became so insupportable in 
spite of the many promises he had made, that the 
clerks were now quietly forming a conspiracy to put 
Favier in his place. 

*^ You need say no more," Huten added, severely. 
" Monsieur Boutheraont wants you to show some fou- 
lards, light grounds." 

The centre of the silk room was occupied by an 
exhibition of summer silks of the most delicate tints, 
reminding one of a rainbow or the clouds at sunset. 
There were foulards, surahs, pongees and tussores, as 
well as stripes and checks ; cream white grounds woven 
with bouquets of roses, brought up images of ladies 
in falbalas^ walking under green trees on a breezy 
morning in May. 

"I will take that one, the Louis XIV. with the 
bunches of roses," said Madame Desforges, finally. 

And while Favier measured off the quantity she 
desired, she made a last attempt on Bouthemont, who 
still stood near her. 

"I am going up stairs," she said; "I want some- 
thing in the way of a travelling wrap. Is the young 
lady of your story a blonde ? " 

Bouthemont, who had been made rather uneasy by 
her persistence, merely smiled in reply. But at this 
moment Denise passed. She was with Madame Bon- 
tarel, the lady from the provinces, who came twice each 
year to spend the money she had accumulated in the 
country. When Denise had left her at the merino 
counter, she turned back, and as Favier took up tb 
foulard purchased by Madame Desforges, Huten thinl^e 


ing to vex hira, said : " No, you need not go ; this 
young lady will kindly show Madame the way." 

Denise, greatly disturbed, took the package and the 
bill. She never met Huten face to face without feeling 
a flush of shame mount to her cheek, as if she had been 
guilty of some great error. And yet she had sinned 
only in her dreams. Had she really loved him? She 
did not know. She would not examine her own lieart. 

" Tell me," asked Madame Desforges in a low voice 
of Bouthemont, "is not that the awkward creature? 
I remember seeing her before. He has taken her back 
into the establishment then ? Is not she the heroine 
of your story ? " 

" Perhaps," answered Bouthemont, still smiling, and 
quite decided not to tell the truth. Then, preceded 
by Denise, Madame Desforges slowly mounted the 
stairs. It was necessary to stand still in order not to 
be swept away by the crowd that was coming down. 
On each stair was^ a mannequin^ firmly planted, clothed 
in an entire costume, with paletots, or dressing-gowns. 
Madame Desforges finally reached the floor above, but 
was again compelled to stjind still. She looked down 
upon a singular spectacle, — a sea of heads. The rugs 
and embroidered silks displayed, reminded her of pro- 
cessional banners, hung in the nave of a church. She 
was conscious, moreover, when she closed her eyes, 
half blinded by the gorgeous colors, of a certain odor 
appertaining to feminine belongings, — an odor that 
was the incense of this temple raised in worship of the 
materiality of woman. 

Meanwhile Mouret, standing at the door of the read«^ 


ing-room, was equally conscious of this odor and was 
intoxicated by it. 

"They almost live here now," he said, gaily. 
** They eat here, and write here I Sometime they will 
sleep here ! " 

Paul laughed, although in reality greatly bored by 
all this* humanity, so turbulent in its pursuit of trifles. 
Pid no one of them, with brain and heart equally 
empty, realize the stupidity and uselessness of life ? 

Octave Mouret seemed to have lost much of his 
usual serenity this morning. As soon as he saw De- 
nise and Madame Desforges coming up the stairs, he 
affected great animation, which increased as they came 
nearer, and although he did not turn his head toward 
them, his color deepened, and his eyes had something 
of the eagerness visible in those of the purchasers at 
his counters. 

" I think you must lose a great deal here," said 
Paul, looking down on the crowd ; " do you not have 
much stolen ? " 

" An incalculable amount, my dear fellow," answer- 
ed Mouret. 

And enchanted to have found a subject on which 
to dilate, he gave a number of details. " In the first 
place," he said, *' there are professional thieves who do 
little harm, since the police know and watch them. 
Then there are kleptomaniacs, victims to a disease well 
recognized by the medical profession — a class apart — 
also women eTiciente^ whose whims beggar description. 
Not long ago one of these was arrested and when b 
rooms were searched, two hundred and forty-eight pOglc 

336 THE "bonheur des dames." 

of rose-colored gloves were found, stolen from balf the 
shops in Paris." 

" That then, is why the expression of these women's 
eyes is so strange," answered Valkgnose. " Some of 
them look as if they were mad, with a hungry, glut- 
tonous look in their faces." 

"Yes, and we have a great deal of trouble, atid yet 
we can't, of course, let them carry away our goods 
under their cloaks. Sometimes they are people of con- 
siderable importance, and we are forced to arrange 
the affair." 

Mouret's voice trembled as he spoke. He' laughed 
constrainedly. Denise and Henriette passed him at 
this moment, having with great diflBculty disengaged 
themselves from the crowd. He turned quickly, bow- 
ed with the discreet salutation of a friend to Madame 
Desforges, who, however, wide awake to the situation, 
saw the look with which he greeted Denise. Yes, it was 
plain this girl was the rival that lier curiosity had led 
her to seek. In the cloak-room, the saleswomen were in 
despair- Two of their number were ill, and Madame 
Frederic " the second " had tranquilly given in her 
resignation the previous evening, going to the desk 
unsummoned, to have her account settled, leaving the 
Bonheur without notice, — in fact behaving toward the 
House precisely as the House behaved toV^ard their 

The entire conversation that morning in this Depart- 
ment, had been of her, and of her reasons for leaving. 
Clara, who was retained in the house, simply because 
of Mouret's caprice*, declared that Madame Frederic's 


conduct was " very cAzV." Marguerite dwelt much on 
Bourdoucle's exasperation, while Madame Aur^lie 
greatly vexed, said that never in the whole course of 
her life had she dreamed of such dissimulation. 

Although Madame Frederic . had taken no one into 
her confidence, she was suspected of having left the 
Bonheur to marry the proprietor of some public baths 
near the markets. 

" It is a travelling cloak that you would . like to 
see?" asked Denise, after offering Madame Desforges 
a chair. 

" Yes," answered this lady coldly, being quite deter- 
mined to be impolite. 

The new furniture and decorations of this Depart- 
ment were extremely rich and handsome. High ward- 
robes of carved oak, mirrors in all the large panels 
and a red Moquette carpet on the floor. 

While Denise went in search of the travelling cloak, 
Madame Desforges looking about, caught sight of her 
own reflection in a mirror, and began to study herself. 
She was growing old then, if she were thus deceived 
for some young girl. The mirror reflected the entire 
room, but she saw only her own pale face ; she did not 
hear Clara, who was telling Marguerite, just behind her, 
one of her remarkable anecdotes of Madame Frederic. 

" These are our last designs," said Denise, " we have 
them in several colors." 

She displayed four or five wraps ; Madame Desforges 

looked at them contemptuously. "How absurd all 

those plaits were I And that one looked as if it had 

been cut out with a hatchet. Who (yj^itiggi^h wou' ,> 


338 THE "bonhkur dks dames." 

wear a thing like that? Show me something else. 

Denise folded and unfolded these wraps without one 
sign of ill temper, and this very serenity was all the 
more exasperating to Madame Desforges, whose eyes 
continued to wander to the mirror opposite. 
. She was so near Denise that she was able to make 

Was it possible that any one could prefer this insig- 
nificant creature to herself? She remembered the 
girl, she had seen her when she first came to the city, 
as awkward as when she kept the geese on her native 
common. She looked better now of course, she held 
herself better, and her black silk robe fitted her more 
correctly. But what an air of poverty ! 

" I will bring you some other styles," said Denise, 

When she returned, the same scene was repeated, 
the cloths were too thick, or if they were thin they 
were worthless. Madame Desforges raised her voice 
in the hope of attracting the attention of Madame 
Aur^lie and inducing her to scold the girl. But Denise 
since her return had conquered this Department, and 
felt thorojighly at home. Madame Aur^lie had come 
to recognize iu her the rare qualities of a sales- 
woman, a certain gentle obstinacy, and a smiling con- 

Madame Aur^lie, therefore, shrugged her shoulders 
and did not interfere. 

"If you would kindly describe the style of wrap 
you desire ? " said Denise, with her polite per^tem^fc^ 

THE "bonheur DKS D A m k s ." 339 

" But you have nothing I " cried Madame Desforges. 
She interrupted herself, surprised at feeling a hand laid 
on her shoulder. It was Madame Marly, whose mad 
thirst for expenditure brought her incessantly to this 
establishment. Her purchases had greatly increased 
since the cravats, the gloves and the red umbrella. 

"Ah I " she said, "you are buying a travelling cloak ! " 

"By no means," answered Madame Desforges. 
" They are simply frightful 1 " 

But Madame Marly pounced upon a striped cloak, 
which she said was very pretty. Her daughter Valen- 
tine began to examine it. Then Denise called Mar- 
guerite, and bade her bring a certain mantle left over 
from the year previous, which the latter, at a glance 
from her companion, presented as a most extraordinary 
bargain ; it had been reduced twice, the original price 
had been one hundred and fifty francs, it was now 
one hundred and ten ; Madame Marly could not with- 
stand the temptation of a bargain, and bought it. 

Meanwhile, behind these ladies, the gossip about 
Madame Frederic still went on. 

"I tell you," said Clara, "that these quiet little 
widows are not to be trusted ! " 

Madame Marly chanced to look around, and seeing 
Clara, pointed her out to Madame Desforges, with an 
almost imperceptible movement of the eyelids, saying 
in a low voice : 

"Is not that caprice of Mouret's perfectly incom- 
prehensible ? " 

Henriette, greatly surprised, looked at Clara, th 
at Denise, and said : Digitized by CjOOgle 


*' No, it IS not she, it is the little one, I believe." 

And as Madatne Marly of course knew no more than 
she had heard, Madame Desforges, in a louder voice 
that expressed all the contempt felt by a grande dame 
for chamber maids apd grisettes, said : 

" Perhaps it is the tall one as well as the little girl ; 
it is more than likely." 

Denise had heard. She became very pale, and lifted 
her innocent eyes to the face of this lady whom she did 
not know, but who had wounded her so deeply. She 
suddenly realized that this was the friend of Monsieur 
Mouret of whom she had heard so much. The ej^es of 
these two women met, and Henriette was made very 
uncomfortable by the simple dignity and innocence of 
the young girl. 

" Since you have nothing to show me here," she said 
abruptly, " take me to the suit Department." 

" I will go with you," cried Madame Marly. " I must 
have, a costume for Valentine." 

Marguerite had placed all the packages in an arm- 
chair, which she dragged after her on its back legs, 
while Denise carried only the bundle of foulard. 

And a long journey now began. Marguerite went 
first, dragging the chair like a little carriage. Madame 
Desforges began to complain. " It was perfectly ridi- 
culous," she said, "to walk miles to find the smallest 
articles one needed ! " 

Madame Marly said she was dead of fatigue, but she 
seemed to enjoy it, stopping at eveiy counter. She 
was sorely tempted by chemises sold by Pauline, 
Madame Desforges could easily have made more haste 


and released Denise, but she seemed happy in the 
f^ing that the girl was behind her, patient and 

Madame Marly went into ecstasies over some white 
silk corsets, some fur cuffs sold at a reduced price by 
reason of the season, and some Russian lace with 
which table linen was trimmed at this time. 

All these things were piled upon the chair, and 
each salesman who took it in succession found it 
more unmanageable and heavy. 

" This way, Madame," said Denise after each halt. 

"How stupid I" cried Madame Desforges, "we shall 
never get there. Why not have the robes and cos- 
tumes next the cloaks and mantles ? " 

Madame Marly, whose eyes dilated with wonder at 
the wealth and beauty exhibited before her, gave way 
entirely to the temptai^ion, saying only from time to 

" Good Heavens ! What will my husband say ? You 
are right, there is no order in this establishment. One 
entirely loses one's head here I " 

At the wide landing of the central staircase it was 
found that the chair could not pass. Mouret had just 
sent there a quantity of fancy articles, travelling cups 
and flasks. He had ordered one of his salesmen to 
exhibit at this same point Japanese and Chinese curiosi- 
ties, trifles at a low price, which would bring a crowd. 

And Madame Marly, while two boys carried her pur- 
chases to the floor above, bought six ivory buttons, some 
silk mice and au alumette stand o£ cloiaarmi enamel. 

Qn tbC} n^X floooitbe aama thing continoied. Denise, 



who had been on her feet since early morning, was 
dead with fatigue, but she stood erect with her usual 
gentle politeness. 

In the upholstery room Madame Marly stopped 
before a ravishing cretonne, and in the furniture room 
she discovered a work-table, without which she felt she 
could not live, while at the same time laughing 
nervously, she implored Madame Desforges to prevent 
her from spending any more money. 

Suddenly the ladies saw Madame Guibal, who had 
come up stairs to return some portieres, which she had 
bought five days before. She was arguing with the 
salesman, a tall fellow, who was in consternation at 
this " return," which deprived him of course of his per- 
centage. He tried to embarrass the lady, feeling sure 
that she had done some shabby trick, given a ball and 
put up these portidres, getting them in this way from 
the Bonheur and returning them rather than to hire 
them from an upholsterer; he knew such things had 
been done in economical households. 

"Madame must have some reason for returning 
them, of course," he said. "If she was not satisfied 
with the designs and colors he would show her others 
— he had a complete assortment." 

To all his insinuations, Madame Guibal simply 
replied with her quiet air that the portieres did not 
please her, and vouchsafed no other explanation. She 
refused to look at any more, and he could only submit, 
as the salesmen were bidden to take back the merchan- 
dise, even if they knew they were being made use of. 

Ad. the three ladies went away together,- and Madame 


Marly pointed out with remorse the work-table for 
which she really had no use, Madame Guibal said tran- 
quilly : 

" You can return it, you know. You saw how I did 
it. Let them send it home. Place it in your salon^ in 
a few days you will be tired of it. After people have 
seen it you can send it back." 

"That is an excellent idea!" cried Madame Marly, 
"and if my husband is very angry I will return every- 

This now became her excuse, and she bought right 
and left — ^but in her heart there was no idea of return- 
ing them, for she was not a woman of that stamp, 
she kept all she got ! 

Finally they reached the robes and costumes. But 
as Denise was about to hand one of the saleswomen 
the foulard bought by Madame Desforges, that lady 
said she had changed her mind, and that she would 
take one of the travelling cloaks after all, the gray 
with the hood. Denise was therefore compelled to 
wait to take the lady back to her Department. 

The young girl was fully conscious of the intention 
of this lady to treat her as if she had been a servant 
— ^but she was also resolved to perform her duty, and 
preserved her calmness, in spite of the revolt and 
indignation in her heart. 

Madame Desforges bought nothing in this room, but 
Valentine cried out: 

" Oh ! mamma, look at that costume, it is just my 

Madame Guibal then explained to Madame MftSji^ 


her tactics. When a robe took her fancy at the Bor^ 
heur^ she ordered it sent home, took the pattern, and 
then returned it. 

Madame Marly bought the costume for her daughter, 
saying as she did so : 

"It is an excellent idea, dear Madame. You are 
practical 1 " 

Then the ladies, still accompanied. by Denise, wan. 
dered through the rooms, where they met friend after 
friend, and finally Madame Bourdelais and her three 
children. The little ones were laden down with pack- 
ages. Madeleine had under one arm a robe for her- 
self, Edouard carried several pair of shoes, while 
Lucien, the younger, was very happy in the possessioa 
of a new kepL 

" You here, too 1 " cried Madame Desforges. 

" Don't speak of it I " answered her old friend, " I 
am furious. They appeal to you nowadays through 
these little ones* - You know that I am not often guilty 
of extravagances for myself, but how can one resist 
these babies, who want everything they see. I merely 
came out for a walk, and see the things I have 

Mouret again appeared upon the scene, in company 
with Yallegnose and Monsieur de Boves, and smiled 
as he listened to what she said. She saw him, and 
repeated her complaints — gaily enough, but with some 
real irritation— of the snares laid for mothers. 

He, still Similing and enjoying his triumph, bowed 
respectfully. Monsieur de Boves contrived to say a 
few woirds, in a low voice, to ISfadame Quib^l, aad> 


then following her, did hia best to lose Valleguose, 
who, however, not interested in anything he saw, was 
not easy to lose. 

Denise was still obliged to wait for these ladies. 
She turned her back on Mouret who, in his turn, 
affected not to see her. From that moment Madame 
Desforges, with the marvellous instinct of a jealous 
woman, no longer doubted. While he complimented 
her, and walked a few steps at her side, like a gallant 
host, she was asking herself whether she should let 
him know her discovery of his treason. 

Meanwhile Monsieur de Boves and Vallegnose* 
walking on in front with Madame Guibal, had reached 
the lace Department. It was a small luxurious room, 
with carved oaken cabinets. Yards upon yards of 
foamy lace were wreathed around columns covered 
with red velvet, and from one to another of these 
columns floated laces of different kinds. And on the 
low cabinets, which served as counters there were 
piles of boxes filled with the rarest laces. 

Two ladies were seated before a piece of mauve silk, 
on which Deloche was throwing some Chantilly points. 

'* Why ! " cried Vallegnose, in great surprise, " did 
you not say that Madame de Boves was suffering? 
There she is with Mademoiselle Blanche." 

The Comte started and glanced hastily at Madame 

*' It is certainly she I " he said. 

The room was very warm, but the two ladies were 
pale and held the laces mth trembling hands. 

^^X^pon my life! these la,dies' look aa if they^ were 

346 THE "bonheur des dames." 

ruining you," continued Vallegnose, quite pleased with 
the rencontre. 

Monsieur de Boves shrugged his shoulders with the 
air of a man who is all the more confident of his 
wife's good sense, because he never trusts her with a 

Madame de Boves had been wandering through the 
shop for hours, and was literally worn out with 
fatigue ; the sight of so many things for which she had 
longed all her life, bewildered her and troubled her 
brain. She lingered long before the tempting boxes, 
then suddenly as her daughter turned her head away 
and the salesman moved off, she slipped under her 
mantle a piece of Point d'Alen^on. But she started 
and dropped it when she heard the voice of Vallegnose 
saying gayly : 

" Ah I we have caught you, Madame." 

For a moment she was white and speechless. Then 
she explained how, being better, she had felt the need 
of fresh air. And then noticing that Madame Guibal 
was with her husband, she looked at her with so much 
dignity that the lady felt constrained to say : 

" I was with Madame Desforges, when we met these 

The other ladies came up at this moment, accom- 
panied by Mouret, who pointed out Inspector Jouve, 
who was watching two well-dressed women. *' It was 
very curious," he said, 'Hhe number of thieves that 
were arrested in the lace room." Madame de Boves, 
who listened with suspended breath, saw herself 
marched off between two gendarmes, with her forty-five 


years, her beauty and the high position of her husband; 

nevertheless she wished she had slipped some lace up 

her sleeve. 

"But why," said Vallegnose, "do you display so 
much of this delicate merchandise? You ought not to 
tempt poor women so far ! " 

The ladies now separated/ It was four o'clock ; the 
rays of the sun entered obliquely through the bay win- 
dows on the front, and clouds of dust now reddened in 
the sunlight thickened the air. Mirrors glittered and 
the large umbrellas hung against the wall were resplen- 
dent like steel, the iron stairs with their gilded grape 
vines interlaced in the railing glowed in the sunshine.^ 

And at this moment the women reigned, they had 
taken this great building by assault, and encamped 
there as in a conquered country. 

The salesmen were now only their slaves, over whom 
they tyrannized as if they had been monarchs. Stout 
ladies pushed their way about, slender ones became 
arrogant and exacting, and all agreed in considering 
the establishment their own. Madame Bourdelais had 
taken her children to the buffet, where an immense 
crowd elbowed each other. 

After buying her travelling wrap, Madame Desforges 
went to the desk, trying to think how she could humili- 
ate Denise in Mouret's presence; in what way she 
could watch both their faces and gain a certainty of 
the truth. 

Monsieur de Boves was in the meanwhile watching 
his chance of disappearing in the crowd with Madame 
Guibal, and his wife took it into her head to ask for a 

348 THE "bonheur des dames." 

red balloon ; though she had bought nothing she would 
not go away empty handed, and she could give it to the 
son of her concierge. Fourteen thousand balloons had 
been given away that day at the counter of the Bon- 
lieur^ fourteen thousand balloons had taken flight over 
Paris, carrying up to Heaven the name of the Bonheur 
des Dames, 

The clock struck five ; Madame Marly was the only 
one left of all these ladies ; it seemed as if she could 
not tear herself away ; she wandered from room to room 
restless and dissatisfied. Madame Marly had entered 
the shop with a cool, fresh face ; it was now burning 
with the unappeased passion excited by the spectacle 
of all this luxury. When at last she dragged hei^elf 
away, saying she would pay for the goods when de- 
livered, she was so terrified that her face was drawn 
like that of a sick woman, and outside the door she 
shiveied in the fresh air and stood still, half bewildered. 

That evening, when Denise returned from dinner, a 
waiter said to her: "Mademoiselle, you are wanted 
in the manager's room." 

She had forgotten the order Mouret had given her, 
to come to his oiBce after the day's sale was over. 

He was standing when she entered. She did not 
close the door, which remained wide open. 

"We are greatly pleased with you. Mademoiselle, 
and we have decided to testify our approval. You 
know how Madame Frederic has left us, * To^^uortQW 
you will take her place and be our ' second.' " 

Denise listened almost stunned. She n;iunnured in 
a t^embtog voic^: o,..e,,, boogie 


"But sir, there are saleswomen who have been 
longer in the Department than I." 

'* What of that?" he replied. *'You are the most 
capable, the most steady. I select you therefore. Are 
you not satisfied ? " 

She colored, feeling a most delightful embarrassment. 
Her first terror had vanished. Why had she been so 
disturbed, she asked herself. He looked at her with a 
faint smile as she stood before him, in her simple black 
silk dress without an ornament, and her magnificent 
blonde hair. Her fair skin and her delicacy gave her 
a great air of refinement. 

"You are very kind," she stammered. "I hardly 
know how to tell you — " 

She suddenly ceased speaking; L'Homme was in the 
doorway, holding in his hand a large leather bag, and 
with his mutilated arm pressing against his breast an 
enormous portfolio. Behind him was his son, Albert, 
with his arms full of bags, the weight of which seemed 
to bow him down. 

" Five hundred eighty-seven thousand, two hundred 
and ten francs, thirty centimes, sir," shouted the 
cashier, whose worn and wrinkled face glowed with 

This gigantic sum was the day's receipts, and the 
largest sum the Bonheur had ever taken in. 

*' That is glorious I " said Mouret, enchanted. " Put 
that heavy load down here, my good friend, for you 
can carry it no farther. I will send it to the central 
cashier. Yes, put it on my desk, I like to see it 
there." Digitized by CjOOgle 

350 THE "bonheur des dames." 

Mouret was like a boy in his gayety. The cashier 
and his son unloaded themselves; two of the bags 
carried' by Albert yawned and set loose streams of 
copper and silver, one of the bags was filled with gold, 
and bank notes were in the portfolio. Albert and his 
father retired, wiping their brows as they went, and 
Mouret stood still, gazing at the money. Then look- 
ing up he saw that Denise was timidly retreating. 
He smiled and insisted on her return, telling her that 
he would give her all she could take in her hajid. 
There was an undercurrent of reality beneath this 

" Here, try this gold. You could not take more than 
one thousand francs, your hand is so little." 

But she turned very pale and drew back. He loved 
her then! All at once this conviction came to her, 
but she was far more overwhelmed by the consciousness 
that her own heai^t was beating like a trip-hanimer. 
Why did he persist in talking of this money ? He went 
nearer to her, but to his intense dissatisfaction, Bour- 
doucle now appeared, having come, he said, to tell him 
of the enormous sum taken that day in the Bonheur. 

Denise hurried away, having once more murmured 
her thanks. 

Digitized by 




THE first Sunday in August an inventory was begun 
which was to be finished that evening. Early in 
the morning, as on a week day, all the employ^ were 
at their post and the work began in the great empty 
shop, with locked doors. 

Denise, however, had not come down stairs at eight 
o'clock with the other saleswomen. She had been in 
fact, confined to her room for five days by a sprained 
ankle, having slipped one morning on the stairs. This 
sprain was much better, but as Madame Aur^lie petted 
and made much of her now, she made no haste, but 
dressed slowly, determined, however, to show herelf 
in the cloak room that day. The chambers of the 
young ladies occupied the entire fifth floor of tlie new 
building on the Rue MonBigny\ there were sixty in. all, 
on the two sides of a long corridor, and extremely 
comfortable, although still furnished with the same 
iron bedstead, wardrobe and oak dressing table. 

As " the second," Denise was now entitled to one of 
the largest rooms with Mansard windows opening on 
the street. Having ample means at present, she in- 
dulged in several minor luxuries, a red eiderdown quilt 
covered with guipure, a rug before the wardrobe, and 
two blue vases on her dressing table, in which some 
roses were slowly fading. o,.z.d.,(^OOgle 


Sh.e tried to walk up and down her room, without 
support, but found that doing so caused her great sufiFer- 
ing. She had been quite riglit in declining to dine 
that evening with her Uncle Baudu, and in requesting 
her aunt to take P^p^ to walk, for she had sent the 
child back to Madame Gras. Jean, who had come to 
see her the previous evening, was also to dine with his 

She was just saying to herself that she would be very- 
careful and would retire very early that night, in order 
to give her ankle a good rest, when Madame Cabin, 
the matron, knocked and gave her a letter with an air 
of mystery. 

When the door closed upon this woman, Denise, 
amazed at the equivocal smile with which she had been 
favored, opened the letter. She instantly turned 
deadly pale and dropped upon a chair ; it was a letter 
from Mouret, in which he congratulated her on her 
recovery and begged her to come down to dine with 
him that evening, as of course she could not go out. 
The tone of this note, at once familiar and paternal, 
was in no degree wounding, but it was impossible to 
misunderstand it. All the Bonheur understood the 
true significance of these invitations. Clara had 
accepted such an one, as had several others, all those 
girls in fact, whom Mouret had favored with his 
especial notice. And the pale cheeks of the young 
girl became deep crimson. 

Then dropping the letter on her lap, with her heart 
beating almost audibl}^ Denise sat with her eyes fixed 
on the blinding light of one of the DWJ[n^o^QQS|^ 

thS "eonhkur Did' daMeS^/* 353 

was now realizing^ the great truth, sKe how knew that 
when she trerabled as he passed, it was not from fear 
— she realized that her uneasiness of those early days 
was but her ignorance of love — her girlish timidity. 
She did not reason, she merely felt that she had loved 
him from the first moment when she trembled and 
stammered before him. She loved him even when she 
feared him as a stern task-master, she loved him even 
when she dreamed of Huten in her great need of affec- 
tion. She knew that she had never loved, could never 
love, any other man than this one. She went over all 
the past which was even remotely connected with him, 
the sternness of her early acquaintance with him, and 
then that delightful walk under the dark shadows of 
the Tuileries. The letter slid to the floor, and Denise 
continued to look out of the window into the dazzling 

There came a sudden knock at her door, and she 
hastilj' snatched up the letter and thrust it into her 
pocket. It was Pauline, who had made some excuse 
to escape from her duties. 

But as it was forbidden to enter these rooms, or for 
two to shut themselves up there, Denise led her to the 
end of the corridor, where there was a salon gallantly 
bestowed upon these young women by the managers, 
where they could remain until eleven o'clock. 

This Balon looked like one in a Hotel : it had a large 
center table and a piano, the sofas and chairs were 
covered with white. 

"You see I can walk now," said Denise. "I was 
just going down stairs." Digitized by CjOOgle 


S54 THE "bonheur des dames." 

" What mistaken zeal ! " cried Pauline. " How glad 
I would be to lounge a little, if I had any excuse ! " 

They seated themselves on a sofa, side by side. 
Pauline's manner had changed since her friend's pro- 
motion. To her persistent cordiality was now added a 
shade of respect — a certain surprise at seeing the little 
country girl on the road to fortune. Denise was 
sincerely attached to her, and confided in her alone, 
treating the other two hundred, at present connected 
with the establishment, with mere politeness. 

"What has gone wrong?" asked Pauline, when she 
noticed her friend's agitation. 

"Nothing at all," answered the other, doing her best 

to smile. 

"I know better; there is something. You trust 
me no longer, then, since you will not confide your 
sorrows to me?" , 

Then Denise, in her agitation, hardly knew what she 
did. She handed the letter to her friend, saying as she 
did so : 

"He has written to me." 

As yet, they had never spoken openly of Moure t. 
But this very silence was an admission of their secret 
pre-occupation. Pauline knew everything. After read- 
ing the letter, she put her arm around her friend's 
waist and whispered in her ear. 

"I thought, to be frank with you, that this letter had 
come long since. All the Bonheur thinks so, I assure 
you. You see he appointed you to Madame Frederic's 
place so quickly, and is always hovering about where- 
ever you are ! " 

Digitized by CjOOQ IC 


She kissed Denise on the forehead, and then said : 

"You will dine with him to-night, of <50urse?" 

Denise looked at her in silence for a moment, and 
then all at once burst into passionate weeping, burying 
her face on the shoulder of her friend. 

Pauline was astonished. 

'*Pray, dear child, be calm. Surely there is nothing 
in this letter which need disturb you like this." 

" Let me weep," sobbed Denise. " If you only 
knew how sore ni}' heart is. I have been in despair 
ever since this letter reached me. Let me weep, it 
soothes me.'* 

Deeply compassionate, thongh totally unable to 
understand the meaning of her friend's tears, Pauline 
did her best to offer consolation. 

*'He never sees Clara now," she sni(l. *' It is true 
that he occasionall}'' goes to see a lady outside, but 
what of that? It is foolish to be jealous of a man 
in such a position. He has so much money, and tlien, 
after all, he is the master." 

Denise listened ; and had she been in doubt as to the 
nature of her own feelings, the anguish awakened by 
Clara's name, and the allusion to Madame Desforges, 
would have enlightened her. She heard Clara's siirill 
voice, and she saw Madame Desforges sweeping haugh- 
iUy through the shop. 

"You would go then?" she asked suddenly. 

Pauline, without an instant's consideration, cried 

*' Go ? Of course I should — how could one do other- 
wise ? " Digi^i,^^ by Cjoogle 

S56 THE/^BfOl^tiliUR Diis Dam«s.^ 

'Then reflecting, sh^ added : 

" I would not now, of Course, as I am to marry 
Baugh, and it would be a mean thing to do." 

It was quite true. Baiigli had left thd Bon MdrcHS 
to enter the Bonhe'Ar des I>umes^ and Was to marry 
Pauline early in August. 

Bourdoucle did not like matrimony among his peo- 
ple. Nevertheless, he gave his sanction, and they 
hoped to obtain from him a fortnight's! leave for their 

" You see ! " stammered Denise, "when a man loves 
you he ought to marry you. Baugh is going to marry 

Pauline laughed heartily. 

" But, dear child, it is not the same thing. BaugH 
marries me because he is Baugh. He is my equal, 
while Monsieur Mouret — Do 3'ou think Monsieur 
Mouret can marry one of his saleswomen?" 

She laughed still more, and pressed a kisS on the fair 
locks of Denise. 

Her heavy face and small eyes assumed an expres- 
sion of maternal commiseration. Then she rose and 
went to the piano, where she played le Roi Dagobert 
with one finger — probably to enliven the situation. To 
this desolate looking salon rose the cries of the street — 
the distant shout of a vender of green peas. 

Denise threw herself back on the sofa, in another 
paroxysm of tears and sobs, which she did her best to 
smother in her handkerchief. 

" More tears I " exclaimed Pauline, turiiing roUnd. 
"You are really very unreasonable. pi^j^y( 

TflE <^B0N3»EU|t jyjElS DAMEg." S57 

^Fuaig line here ? We might ju^t as well hav^ remained 
in your room." 

Then, leaving tiie piano, Pauline knelt at the^ide of 
her friend and read her a lecture. How many women 
would gladly be in her place ! Besides, if the thing 
did not please her, if she did not wish to go, she had 
but to say no, without crying her heart out about it. 
£ut she ought 'to re^ec^t, before she ristked her position 
i>y a refusal. 

The advice and lecture ended in a laughing joke or 
two, just as a step was heard in the corridor 

Pauline ran to the door to hastily inspect. 

"Hush!" she said, "it is* Madame Auri^lie, and I 
anust be off. And now dry your eyes. It is not 
necessary to allow everybody to know what has 

When Denise was alone, she rose to her feet and with 
difficulty crossed the room, to close the piano, which 
Iter friend liad left open. She heard Madame Aur^lie 
^ock at her door and went out to meet her. 

"What ! are you up ? " cried the forewoman. "What 
imprudence! I came to beg you to stay in your 
'70om, for we really do not require your services down 
stairs to-day." 

Denise assured her that she was much better, and 
4hat she should prefer some occupation. 

" I will not over-exert myself, Madame. You will 
let me sit down, and I will attend to the books." 

They w^nt down stairs together. Madame Aur^lie 
in a most benevolent manner obliged Denise to lean on 
Jier ^cmlder. Sbe had notieed t^ yxHmg girl's red> 

358 THE "bonheuk des dames." 

€ye and watched her stealthily. The forewoman knew 
many things. 

This was a most unexpected victory. Denise had 
conquered this Department. After suffering tortures 
there for ten months without softening the hearts of 
her comrades, she had come back there and in a few 
weeks had conquered them all. The demonstrations of 
tenderness from Madame Aurdlie, bad been of great 
assistance to her in this wearisome task of conciliating 
these stubborn natures. It was whispered that the 
forewoman was Mouret's confidante, and it certainly 
had a little of that air when she took the young girl so 
warmly under her protection. 

Denise, however, had done her very best to disarm 
her enemies, and her task was all the more difficult, for 
she had also to win their forgiveness for her promotion. 
The other saleswomen muttered at the injustice, and 
declared that she had coaxed this favor from Mouret 
some day at dinner, and allowed their imagination to 
invent some abominable details. In spite, however, of 
all this, the title of " the second " was not without its 
effect. Denise wielded her authority in a manner that 
astonished every one, even the most hostile. And 
among the latest comers she found some admirers who 
flattered her. Her sweetness and modesty finished the 
conquest, and brought all but Clara to her side ; this 
last stood sulkilv aloof, and even went so far as to mur- 
mnr "milkmaid," but this witticism fell unheeded to 
the ground. During Mouret's brief caprice she had 
indulged in the most impertinent indolence. But he 
soon wearied of her, and she did not ^^^ ^the trouble 


to be jealous of Lira, and was satisfied with having been 
preferred and having nothing to do. 

She, however, considered that Denise had robbed her 
of the succession to Madame Frederic, not that she 
would have accepted it, on account of the work, but 
she was vexed at the want of courtesy shown her. 

" Look at the invalid ! " she muttered when she saw 
Madame Aur^lie assisting Denise. 

Marguerite shrugged her shoulders. 

" Funny, is it not? " she said. 

The clock struck nine. The sky was cloudless and 
the streets crowded with people hurrying to stations ; 
people who were eager to spend the day in the country. 

The doors of the shop were closed, although the win- 
dows were left wide open, to obtain the air, and people 
as they passed looked in, amazed at the extraordinary 
activity they witnessed. 

Each of the thirty-nine Departments was doing its 
own task, unheeding those of all the others. 

"Why did you come down to-day?" asked Mar- 
guerite politely, of Denise. "You will only make 
yourself ill, and we have all the help we really need." 

" That is precisely what I told her," said Madame 
Aurdlie, " but she was determined to do her share." 

The saleswomen all crowded around Denise, and the 
work was momentarily interrupted. She was asked to 
repeat over and over again the story of her sprain. 
Finally Madame Aur^iie placed her in a chair before a 
table, and it was understood that she should write 
down the articles as they were called out. jOn inven- 
tory Sundays every employ^ who could hold a pen was 


pushed into the service, that the work could be all 
accomplished in one day. It therefore came to pass 
that Denise sat at a table with the cashier L'Homme and 
the boy Joseph, both leaning over huge sheets of paper. 

"FiVe mantles, cloth, fur trimmed, third size, two 
hundred and forty francs," called out Marguerite. 
"Tour ditto, first size, at two hundred and seventy." 

The work began. Behind Marguerite, three sales- 
women were emptying the wardrobes and classifying 
the articles, and when she had called them out they 
were thrown on the table, where the piles soon became 
very high. L'Homme wrote, Joseph copied his list for 
the managers. During this same time Madame Aur^lie, 
aided by three other saleswomen, was calling out the 
silk garments, which Denise wrote down. 

Clara's duty was to arrange these last in a way that 
would take up the smallest possible room on the tables. 
But she made very little effort to perform this task. 

" Tell me," she said to a little saleswoman, a com- 
paratively new arrival, "is your salary to be raised? 
The ' second ' is to receive two thousand francs, which, 
with her percentage, will mount up to seven thousand." 

The little saleswoman, still counting the circulars 
answered, that if they did not give her eight hundred 
francs she should take herself off. The increase in sala- 
ries was always announced the day after the inventory 
was made, which was also the date when the condition 
of their affairs being known to the managers, the heads 
of the various Departments received their interest on 
the money made that year, over and above that of 
he previous year. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Conseqjuently levery one worked with a will, and 
thjBre was no talk except ^bout money. The repoiit 
was in circulation that Madame Aur^lie would receive 
■seventy-rtive thousand franos. Such a sum naturally 
' excited the envy of all these women. Marguerite, the 
best saleswoman after Denise, had made four thousand 
five hundred francs, fifteen hundred irancs salary, and 
.three thousand francs as percentage, while Clara had 
but two thousand five hundred francs in all. 

" What do I care ! " ci-ied the latter, addressing the 
little saleswoman again ; " if my father were dead I 
should show them plenty of money. But all the same 
3. am ^none too well pleased to hear of the seyeu thou- 
sand francs belonging to this bit of creation ! " 

Then Madame Aur^lie turned and stopped this con- 
iV'Crsation with her most imperial air. 

'*Hush! young ladies! I really can hear nothing 
'that is said." 

Then she began her catalogue again : 

^^ Seven mantles, Sicilienne, first size, at oub hundred 
and thirty ; three pelisses, Surah, second size, at a hun- 
dred and fifty." 

" Have you got these down, Mademoiselle Denise ? " 

"Yes, Madame." 

Clapa busied herself a few moments with the gar- 
ments on the tables. But presently she gave them up 
to talk with a salesman who was looking for her. It 
was Migftol, the glover, who had deserted his counter. 
He whispered a r-equest that she would lend him twenty 
francs; he already ow^d her thirty, having borrowed 
them one day when he had lost pn a l^^J'^/g^bll^S^^^ 


she had expended her salary in advance, and had but 
ten francs in her pocket, which she lent willingly 

And she had now much to say of a certain restau- 
rant and a party of six where the women had paid 
their scot. It was really much better, for every one 
felt more independent. 

Then Mignol, who still pursued his twenty francs, 
went to L'Homme and whii>pered in his ear. The poor 
cashier thus cornered, seemed in great distress. He 
did not dare refuse, and was searching his pockets for 
a ten-franc piece, when Madame Aur^lie, astonished at 
not hearing Marguerite's voice any more, looked around 
and seeing Mignol, understood at once that he was the 
cause of hindrance. She peremptoril}^ ordered him back 
to his own Department. " He had no right," she said, " to 
come here and disturb the young ladies in their work." 

The truth was she disliked this young man, who was 
the intimate friend of her son Albert, and his constant 
accomplice in adventures, some of which she felt sure 
would be most disastrous some day. 

When therefore, Mignol disappeared with the ten 
francs, she could not prevent herself from saying to 
her husband : 

" How can you be so foolish? Why should you lend 
money to that fSllow ? " 

'' How could I refuse?" he replied. 

She closed his mouth with a contemptuous shrug of 
her broad shoulders, and turning towards the saleswo- 
men, who were stealthily enjoying this family explana- 
tion, she said, severely : ^^^,^^^^^ byC^OOgle 


**Come, Mademoiselle Marguerite, we must not go 
to sleep ; we shall never get through at this rate." 

"Twenty paletots, cashmere, lined, fourth size, 
eighteen francs, fifty centimes," began Marguerite, in 
her sing-song voice. 

L'Homnie began to write again. His salary bad been 
advanced from time to time, until now he received nine 
tliousand francs, but as Madame Aur^lie made three 
times that amotint, he was still very humble before her. 

The work went on; but Clara had invented an 
amusement for herself. She was teasing Joseph in 
regard to a passion, by which she declared he was pos- 
sessed for a young lady in another Department. This 
person was quite twenty-eight and thin and pale. She 
was a protegee of Madame Desforges who had induced 
Mouret to take her into the Bonheur. The story was 
a touching one. She was an orphan, the last of the 
Fontenailles, an old family in Poitou. She had come 
to Paris with a drunken father, and through all had 
kept herself pure and wonlanl3^ Her education was 
too imperfect to permit her to teach in a school, or give 
lessons on the piano. Mouret generally refused to lis- 
ten when such persons were recommended to him. He 
said that women with such antecedents were invariably 
the most difl&cult to get on with ; they were exacting 
and incapable. Besides, no one was born a saleswoman ; 
an apprenticeship was needed for a position that de- 
manded such tact and delicacy. Nevertheless, he took 
this protegee of Madame Desforges, and placed her in 
a Department where she had very little to do, but 
received three francs per day, which permitted her^^ 



keep body and soul together in a little room iu the 
Hue d' ArgentetiiL Meeting her daily, looking so Ba4» 
Joseph's heart was touched. He never acjinowl edged 
this, but colored deeply when the young women in th^ 
cloak-room jested him about Mademoiselle de Foute- 
nailles, for they had noticed him constantly hanging 
around the door of the room next her o\vn. 

Mademoiselle de Fontenailles had been sumn^oned 
to the lingerie Department, where her services werp 
needed for the inveutory, and as Joseph kept looking 
into that room, the saleswomen in the cloajk Depart- 
ment were greatly amused and began to laugh. 

He became confused and dropped his face low over 
his papers, while Marguerite to silence the tittcirs Xiu^t 
followed this movement, called out: 

" Fourteen jackets, English cloth, second sipe, fifteen 

Suddenly Madame Aurdlie, who was countiixg tl^ 
circulars, said with slow and stately dignity : 

" iV little lower, if you please. We are not ip n 
market; and you must permit me to say that I ^lould 
like you all to postpone your jokes until you are less 
busy and time is less precious." 

At that moment, Clara, who was not on her guard, 
came to grief. All the high piles of goods which had 
been so carefully arranged, slipped off the table to the 

" There I " cried the forewoman, greatly enraged. 
'* What did I tell you I Pay a little flaore attention, 
Mademoiselle Clara, for this is quite unendvurable ! " 

Bat noonebeeded^^erj ,Mo.ijret ^^d ^qviirdpjlQlje nt 

Digitized by CjOOQIC 


tliat moment appeared. Clara began to gather np the 
scattered garments, but Monret did not interrupt the 
wbrk. lie stood silently looking on for a few moments. 
But when he saw Denise, he uttered an exclamation of 

"Why had she comedown stairs?" he asked. He 
turned to Madame Aur^lie and seemed about to speak, 
but changed his mind and went on. 

Denise looked up and saw Mouret, but was unmoved 
and continued her writing. She had given way to her 
first agitation ; tears and sobs had nearly suffocated her, 
but she had now regained her usual serenity and cour- 
age. Her eyes were clear and her cheek without a 
flush ; she had resolved to keep her heart well in check. 
The clock struck ten, and the hurry and confusion in- 
creased, in spite of which, every saleswoman and sales- 
man had by this time learned that Mouret had written 
a letter to Denise, asking her to dine with him. Pauline 
had been guilty of a great indiscretion. On leaving 
Denise, she met Deloche on the stairs and without 
noticing that Li^nard was directly behind, she opened 
her heart at once. 

" It is settled, my friend. She has just received a 
letter from him. He invites her to dine with him 

Deloche turned deadly pale. He of course, instantly 
understood, for he often questioned Pauline, and they 
had almost daily talks about their mutual friend ; they 
spoke frankly to each other of Mouret's tenderness for 
her, and of the invitation which would finally end the 
adventure. Pauline often lectured him for wasting his 

866 THE "bonheur dks dames." 

affections on Denise, and she shrugged her shoulders 
when he praised the young girl for resisting Mouret. 

*^Her foot is better," she answered, ''she is coming 
down stairs. For heaven's sake don't look so dismal. 
She is in great luck, I think ! " 

And Pauline hurried on to her work. 

'*AhI" murmured Li^nard, who had heard all this, 
"I understand now, it is the young lady with the 
sprained foot, whom you defended last night at the 
cafiT And he in his turn hurried back to his counter, 
where he told the story of the letter to four or five sales- 
men. Ten minutes later the tale was known to every one. 

Li^nard's words referred to a scene that had taken 
place the previous evening at the caf6 Saint-Roch. 
Deloche and Lidnard now lived together, ti^nard had 
taken Huten's chamber at the Hotel de ' Smyrne^ when 
Huten after his promotion took a small apiirtment con- 
sisting of three rooms. The two clerks came together 
to the Bonheur in the morning, and waited for each 
other at night. Their chambers were next each other 
and looked out on the same foul court-yard, the .stench 
from which permeated the entire Hotel. 

The two got on well together in spite of their dis- 
similarity, one spending his father's money freely, the 
other without a sou, torturing his brain with plans of 
economy. They had, however, one thing in common, 
their want of success as salesmen, which left them 
vegetating at their counters. After leaving their daily 
duties at the Bonheur they spent the rest of their time 
at the cafS Saint-Roch^ which about half-past eight was 
crowded with customers. The noise was 

Digitized by '^ 



loud laughs, the rattle of dominos, all heard through 
thick clouds of tobacco. Beer and coffee were drunk 
profusely. Li^nard called for the most expensive 
articles, while Deloche contented himself with a glass 
of beer which he took four hours to drink. 

It was there that he heard Favier, at tlie next table, 
speak very lightly of Deiiise, telling how she liked to 
mount the stairs before him and hold up her dress that 
he might see her pretty ankles. It was with difiBculty 
that Deloche refrained from slapping Favier's face; 
Li^nard coaxed him away, but in his excitement, he 
said to his friend many things that later he would 
gladly have recalled. 

'' I know her," he said, " I know him too. She has 
never liked any man ; yes, she liked Huten, but he 
never knew it, and can't boast of ever touching the tips 
of her fingers." 

The story of this quarrel had greatly amused the 
JBonheur^ who heard it in an exaggerated form, and 
now came the account of Mouret's letter to increase 
their amusement. 

It was to a salesman in the silk room that Li^nard 
first told the news. Here the work of the inventory 
was making wonderful progress ; Favier and two clerks 
were on high steps, clearing off the shelves, while 
others measured the remnants and called out the prices. 
The silks were then thrown down on the floor. Other 
employes were writing. Albert L' Homme was assist- 
ing these last ; he was very pale after a night's dissipa- 
pation. The silk room was filled with sunshine. 

" Pray put down the awnings," cried Bouthemontf' 

368 THfi "bonhkur des dames/' 

as he overlooked this work. "This sun is insup- 

Frtvier grumbled as he reached up for a pile of silks : 

" It is perfectly abominable to keep people at work 
in such weather as this ! There is no danger of rain on 
the day when an inventory is taken ! Here we are 
kept under bolts and bars like galley slaves while all 
the rest of Paris are taking their pleasure ! " 

He handed the silk to Huten. On the ticket was 
the original number of yards and the amount since sold, 
which greatly simplified their labor. 

Huten called out: 

" Fancy silk, checked, twenty-six yards, at six francs 

And this silk was thrown upon the pile lying upon 
the floor. 

Then he continued a controversy with Favier. 

" Then he wanted to strike you ? " he asked. 

"Certainly he did. I was quietly drinking my 
beer. He need not have been so silly ; the girl has 
just received a letter from the manager ifiviting her to 
dinner. Everybody is talking about it." 

Favier handed him another piece of silk. 

" Ditto, twenty-nine yards," called Huten. 

Then he said in a low voice : 

" You know the sort of life she led under the roof of 
that old rascal Bonnat?" 

The whole silk room was now astir, although the 
work went on. The name of the young girl was tossed 
from mouth to mouth. Even Bouthemont, who en- 
joyed tales of this kind, hazarded a coarse joke or two, 


at which he was the first to laugh. Just then Mignol 
appeared with the mone}'' he had borrowed, and as he 
handed ten francs to Albert he heard the story of the 
letter, and made so coarse a rennirk that Bouthemont 
saw himself obliged to interfere. 

"Enough! gentlemen, enough! It is at all events' 
none of our business. Goon, Monsieur Huten, go on !'* 

" Fancy silk, small checks, twenty-seven yards, six- 
francs fifty," continued the latter in reply. 

The pens went to work again, the pieces of silk fell' 
with a thud to the floor, where the piles were rapidly 
growing, and the enumeration of fancy silks went 
steadily on. Favier remarked in a low voice that it- 
was a fine selection. The managers ought t9 be^ 
pleased. Bouthemont was probably the best buyer in 
Paris, but as a salesman he was not worth a pair of old' 

. Huten was delighted at this praise, as he had himself 
introduced Bouthemont at the Bonheur des Dames to 
drive Robineau away, and was doing his best to under- 
mine him and obtain his situation. It was the same 
old war as before, insinuations whispered in the ear of 
the managers, excess of zeal to awaken their attention. 
In short the campaign was fully marked out and con- 
ducted with deceitful amiability. 

Meanwhile Favier, to whom Huten showed a new 
cojidescension, watched him coldly and contemptuously 
as if he were counting how many mouthfuls he could 
make of the little man, and was only waiting for his 
comrade to eat Bouthemont, to devour him in his turn; 
He aspired to the place of "the second " if Huten sii^^^ 

370 THE "bonheur des dames/' 

ceeded in ousting Bouthemont. And both these men 
in the feverish expectation that influenced all the 
employes in the Bonheur^ talked of increase of salaries, 
while at the same time continuing to call out the 
number of yards, and the prices. Bouthemont would 
certainly make his thirty thousand francs this year. 
Huten would make ten. Favier estimated his salary 
and percentage at five thousand five hundred. 

Each year the salesmen were promoted, and their 
pay increased, as oflScers were promoted during a 

" Are we never to be done with these little fancy 
silks?" said Bouthemont suddenly. "Upon my word 
it seems to me that we sell only black silks nowadays.'* 

His gay face grew suddenly dark as he looked down 
on the piles at his feet, while Huten in a voice of per- 
ceptible triumph, continued to repeat: 

"Fancy silks, small check, twenty-two yards, six 
francs fifty centimes." 

There was still a long shelf covered with the same, 
but as Favier handed the last piece to Huten, he said 
in a low voice : 

" I came near forgetting. Do you know that the 
new ^second' in the cloak room has had a great 
weakness for you?" 

The young man looked as he felt, greatly surprised. 

"How could you know it, if it were true?" he 

" Oh ! that fool of a Deloche let it out. I remember 
the time now. I used to see her wandering about the 
shop to meet you." Digitized by CjOOglC 


Huten was in fact greatly flattered, but he answered 
with an air of contempt : 

"I like women with a little more flesh on their 
bones, and then, too, one can't go with every one like 
Mouret himself." 

He interrupted himself, and called out : 

'* White Poult de soie, forty yards, eight francs, 
seventy-five centimes 1 " 

"At last!" murmured Bouthemont, with an air of 

But a bell was heard. It was for the second table, 
which was Favier's. He came down from the high 
steps; another salesman took his place. It was now 
almost impossible to step upon the floor — ^boxes, cases 
and shelves had disgorged their contents. From the 
next room came the dull thud of pieces of cotton, as 
they fell on the floor — and a loud rattling of paste- 
board boxes from the stocking counter. Sharp voices 
called out figures — it was like a wintry storm whistling 
through the branches in January. 

Favier finally reached the stairs that led to the 
refectories, which, since the changes and enlargements 
in the Bonheur des DameSy were on the fourth floor of 
the new building. He presently overtook Deloche and 
Li^nard, and then Mignpl. 

" Deuce take it all ! " he said, in the corridor that 
led to the kitchen, where he stopped to read the menu 
on the blackboard. " They mean to make a f^te of 
this inventory— chicken or leg of mutton, with arti- 
chokes dressed with oil." 

Mignol sneered, as he murmured: ' Digitized by C^OOgle 


^^ There must certainly be a disease among the 

Deloche and Li^nard had taken their portions, and 
gone on. Then Favier said in a loud voice at the 
wicket : 


But he was obliged to wait ; one of the assistants 
had cut his finger, and was having it wrapped up. He 
stood, therefore, looking into the kitchen, with its 
gigantic furnace, and its arrangement of pulleys and 
iron rods to lift heavy pots, which four men could not 
have raised. Several cooks, looking deadly pale in 
the red light from the fire, were attending to the big 
soup pots, while hanging against the wall were grid- 
irons, large enough to broil raartyra, sauce-pans in 
which a sheep could have been fricasseed, monumental 
plate warmers, and a basin of running water. On the 
left was a small room, where scullions were washing 
dishes, and on the right a huge pantry, in which great 
pieces of meat hung on iron hooks. 

A machine for paring potatoes was busy at work, 
with the regular tic-tac of a mill, and two little wagons 
were just going to the fountain laden with salads, 
which required to be freshened up. 

" Chicken," said Favier again, impatiently. 

Then, turning away, he said in a lower voice : 

" It is disgusting ! One of the fellows has cut him- 
self, and the blood has dripped all over the food." 
' Mignol wished to see, and a number of the other 
clerks crowded up, with loud laughter and rude 
pushes. The two young men, Favier and Mignpl, still 

"the "bonheuk des dames." 873 

stood at the wicket, exchanging remarks over the 
utensils, which even to the spits and larding needles 
were gigantic. Two thousand dinners and two thou- 
sand breakfasts were served there daily, and the num- 
ber of employes was increasing weekly. 

It was a gulf which swallowed up a hundred and 
twenty pounds of butter, forty-eight bushels of pota- 
toes, and half a ton of meat, and where, at every meal, 
about a thousand quarts of wine were consumed. "At 
last I'* muttered Favier, when he received his plate. 

" Chicken ! '* said Mignol, behind him. 

And the two men, each carrying his own plate, 
entered the refectory after taking their wine from the 
buffet^ while behind them the word " chicken " was 
perpetually repeated, and the cook's fork took out the 
pieces with the regular movement of a clock. 

The present refectory of the clerks was an immense 
hall, where five hundred could be seated with ease at 
mahogany tables running up and down the room. At 
the two ends were tables placed across. These tables 
were reserved for the inspectors and heads of Depart- 
ments, and in the centre was a counter for the display 
and sale of " extras." Long windows on the right and 
the left flooded the room with light, the ceiling looked 
low, though in reality high, by reason of the enormous 
size of the room. The only ornaments on the buff, 
painted walls were the cabinets for the napkins. 

There was no cloth on the tables, and there was 
consequently a frightful noise made by the plates. 

"You have a leg, too, I see, Mignol," said Favier, as ( 
he took his seat. 

874 THE "bonheur des dames/' 

" Yes, the chickens we use here have an extra quan- 
tity of legs, you know/' answered Mignol quietly. 

In spite of these satirical remarks, the food had* 
greatly improved. Mouret no longer paid a man a 
fixed sum. He had a service, organized as in one of 
the Departments of the shop — there was a Chef, a 
sub-Chef, and an Inspector, and if this arrangement 
was more expensive in one way, it was more economi- 
cal in another, as it enabled him to obtain more work 
from his better fed employes, a humanitarian calcula- 
tion which had greatly astonished Bourdoucle. 

"Mine is very good," said Mignol, "hand me the 

The big loaf went the rounds, and each took a slice, 
the last one sheathing the knife again in the crust. 
The tables were now full, and every one steadily eat- 
ing. There was a rattle of knives and forks, a 
gurgling of wine poured from the bottles, and sounds 
from five hundred jaws energetically at work. There 
was, as yet, very little conversation. 

Deloche was seated between Baugh and Li^nard, 
almost opposite Favier. They looked at each other 
with vindictive hatred, while their neighbors, who 
knew of the quarrel of the previous evening, watched 
them stealthily. There was a good deal of laughter at 
Deloche, who was always in a famished condition, and 
who invariably had the bad luck to fall on the worst 
morsel. This time he had the neck of a chicken, and 
the remiains of a carcass. He took no notice of these 
jests, but swallowed huge mouthfuls of bread, and 


picked the neck with the infinite care of a youth who 
had been brought up with respect for meat. 
. " Why don't you take it back ? " said Bangh. 

But Deloche shrugged his shoulders. What was . 
the use ? He never gained anything in that way. 

"You know the bobbin-winders have their club 
now," said Mignol, suddenly. " They meet at a wine 
merchant's, in the Rue Saint Honor^, who lets them a 
room on Saturdays." 

He was talking of the salesmen in the Haberdashery 

Conversation around the table now began, and there 
were only a few with their heads obstinately bent over 
their plates. 

The employes of the Bonheur were each year becom- 
ing more fastidious and accomplished. Half of them 
spoke English or German. They no longer thought it 
chic to go to the cafSs chantant to hiss the ugly sing- 
ers. No, they formed clubs instead. 

"Have they a piano?" asked Li^nard. 

"Of course the Bobbin Club has a piano," answered 
Mignol, "and they play and sing. And they have one 
member, little Bavoux, who reads verses ! " 

The gayety increased ; they pretended to laugh at 
Bavoux, but in reality felt the highest respect for him. 
They had much to say about a new piece at the Vau- 
deville, where a "counter jumper" played a conspicu- 
ous part, and then they anxiously* inquired at what 
hour they would probably be released that evening. 

In order to rid the room of the smell of food, the^ 
windows were opened, though the awnings were low^ 


ered to shut out the hot August sun - — the air that 
came in was dry and hot. 

" The idea of being shut up here on a Sunday like, 
this ! " repeated Favier. 

This reflection brought up the inventory agaim 
The year had been a wonderful success ; and then they 
fell to discussing the augmentation of salaries, and 
the percentage on their sales — ^the everlasting subject 
which was of paramount interest to all — and the noise 
finally became intolerable, but the inspectors had re- 
ceived orders to be very indulgent that day* 

Mignol suddenly said: 

"Who is it that does not like artichokes? I will 
sell my dessert for his plate of artichokes." 

No one answered — everybody liked artichokes. 
This breakfast was regarded as a feast, for there were 
peaches for dessert. 

*'He has invited her to dinner," said Favier to his 
neighbor on the right. He was finishing his story. 
" You did not know it then?" 

The entire table knew it, and were tired of talking 
of it ; nevertheless, jests again flew up and down the 
table. Deloche turned very pale, and sat with his 
eyes fixed on Favier, who now said in a most pro- 
voking way: 

" Well, if he likes bones, he will have them now." 

He dropped his head as he uttered these words, for 
Deloche, yielding to an irresistible movement, threw a 
glass of wine full in his face, with the words : 

" Take that, liar ! " - 

There was general confusion; only^S fe^^ arops had 

'the "b.onheur des dames." 377 

fallen on Favier's hair, while his neighbors were liber- 
ally bespattered and excessively angry. 

"What a brute the fellow is! He deserves to 
have his ears cuffed." 

But the voices dropped, as one of the inspectors 
approached the table; it was entirely unnecessary to 
inform the administration of the quarrel — ^and Favier 
muttered : 

*' Lucky for him that the wine did not touch me I " 

When Deloche, still trembling from head to foot, 
wanted to drink to hide his emotion, and mechanically 
extended his hand to his empty glass, there was an 
explosion of loud laughter. He dropped his glass and 
went to work awkwardly on his artichokes. 

" Hand that carafe to Deloche, he is thirsty," said 
Mignol, quietly. 

The laughter increased as the young men took clean 
plates from the piles placed on the table at equal 
distances, and the waiters handed about peaches in 

Deloche sat with bowed head, seemingly unconscious 
of all these jests — in reality, he was overwhelmed with 
regret for what he had done. These people were wise, 
when they asked him by what right he undertook her 
defense, and they would have every reason to believe 
all sorts of things about an innocent woman, all 
because of his imprudence. It was his usual luck — he 
ought to have known by this time that he never 
yielded to the impulses of his heart without commit- 
. ting some atrocious folly. 

Tears came into his eyes. Was it not his own faults 


if the whole shop were talking of the letter written by 
Mouret. He heard them all sneering at the invitatioa, 
of which he alone had been informed, and he accused 
himself of stupidity in allowing Pauline to speak in 
his presence. 

" Why did you repeat what you heard ? " he whis- 
pered to Li^nard. " You did very wrong.'* 

"I!" answered Li^nard, amazed. " I mentioned it 
only to two or three persons in confidence. How do 
things ever spread as they do ? " 

When Deloche finally drank a glass of water, there 
was another roar of laughter from the clerks, who were 
lying back in their chairs waiting fpr the bell, which 
should summon them again to their work. At the 
centre counter few extras were called for, as that day 
the house presented the coffee — smoking cups stood 
around the table, and not a breath of air came in at the 
windows. One of the awnings was put up,^ and a ray 
of sunshine streamed athwart the hall. The noise 
was so great that the bell was not at first heard. Then 
the crowd slowly rose and filed out of the room. 

Deloche lingered until the last, to escape the witti- 
cisms at the expense of Denise, which were still ban- 
died about. Even Baugh, who was usually the last to 
leave the dining-room, had gone, and met Pauline on 
her way to the ** ladies' refectory." It was a daily 
manoeuvre by which they contrived to see each other 
for a moment. 

Denise, who was slowly and painfully mounting the 
stairs — for her foot was again paining her greatly-?- 
saw the meeting, and the kiss exchanged in a corner. 


"You must not tell," stammered Pauline, blushing 

Biiugh, big as he was, trembled like a little bo3^ as 
he munnured : 

"If you did, they would turn us both off at a 
minute's notice. They know we are to be married, 
but they will not take that into consideration." 

Denise pretended not to understand what he meant, 
and Baugh hurried away, just as Deloche appeared. 
He came to Denise and tried to apologize. She did 
not at first know what he meant. But when he said 
that Pauline had spoken in Li^nard's presence, the 
young girl grasped the meaning of the whispers she 
had heard all that morning. The story of the letter 
was known to every one. She began to tremble as she 
did when the letter first reached her. 

" I did not know that Li^nard was there I " cried 
Pauline, " and after all, what does it matter, they must 
have something to talk about." 

" My dear," said Denise finally, in her usual little 
quiet way, " I do not intend to reproach you. You 
have told only the truth. I have received a letter and 
I must reply to it." Deloche went away heart-broken, 
having understood that the young girl accepted the 
situation, and would go to the rendezvous that evening. 
When the two saleswomen had breakfasted, in a small 
room next to the great dining-room where the women 
were served in a more comfortable way, Pauline assist- 
ed Denise down stairs again. The hurry and confu- 
sion down stairs had increased, for they were all deter-^ 
mined to finish before dark. Through the closed win- 

380 THE "bonheuk des dames." 

dows occasional persons lounged past, wearied with the 
ennui of a hot Sunday. Three big girls stood with 
their faces pressed agjiinst the glass, boldly watching 
what was going on inside the shop. 

When Denise returned to her Department, Madame 
Aur^lie left Marguerite to complete her task, while 
she retired with Denise into the cutting-room, th.e 
door of which she left open, that she might still 
exercise a certain supervision over the young ladies 
under her. 

. This room was very large, containing a few chairs 
and three long tables. In a corner were the huge 
mechanical scissors with which patterns were cut. 
From morning until night this machine was at work. 
Silk and wool, linen and cloth, all passed under it. 
Between the windows was a small printing press 
with which the tickets and lists were printed. 

"You can read these lists to me," said Madame 

When Denise had got through these lists, she began 
to add up long columns of figures while Madame 
Aurdlie disappeared. Returning in a few minutes she 
brought with her Mademoiselle de Fontenailles, who 
was no longer needed in the next room, and Where in 
fact she was having rather a hard time, as the women, 
led by Clara, were joking Joseph in regard to her. 

"Sit by me," said Denise, greatly compassionate 5 
"here, this inkstand will do for us both." Mademoi- 
selle de Fontenailles could not find words to express 
her gratitude. Her eyes and complexion were equally 
dull, and only her hands gave the smallest indication 


of her aristocratic birth ; they were white and slender. 
The laughter died away, and the work went on steadily, 
for Mouret now once more appeared. He stopped, 
surprised not to see Denise. He nodded to Madame 
Aui-^lie, who instantly obeyed the summons. He said 
a few words to her in a low voice,, and she looked 
toward the next room. She was undoubtedly telling 
him that the young girl had been weeping. 

" Let me see the list," said Mouret, suddenly. 

"Yes,*' answered the forewoman, "but I must ask 
you to step in here, as we could do nothing in this 

He followed her into the cutting-room. Clara was 
not duped by this manoeuvre, and she muttered some 
coarse joke under her breath. But Marguerite threw 
her a pile of cloaks with a warning look. "The sec- 
ond" was obliging and pleasant, why should they inter- 
fere in her affairs? The whole room became accom- 
plices, and L'Homme and Joseph were suddenly deaf, 
while Inspector Jouve, who had fully comprehended 
Madame Aur^lie's tacticsi, began to walk up and down 
before the door of the cutting-room with the regular 
pace of a well-drilled functionary who mounts guard 
over the pleasures of his superior. 

" Give the lists to Monsieur Mouret," said the 
woman, as she entered. 

Denise obeyed, and then sat still with lowered lids. 
She had started slightly, but quickly regained her self- 
control, although the faint color in her cheek faded 
away. Mouret seemed absorbed in the lists, and did 
not look at the young .girl. Entire silence reigned 


Then Madame Aur^Iie, going to Mademoiselle de 
Fontenailles, who had not turned her head, looked 
over her shoulder and seemed discontented with her 
addition of the long columns of figures, 

"You cam go/' she said, "and help them in the 
next room. It is plain that you are not accustomed 
to figures." 

Mademoiselle de Fontenailles returned to the cloak- 
room, where her appearance was greeted with whispers. 
Joseph, under the laughing eyes of these demoiselles* 
made mistakes in his writing. Clara was delighted to 
have some assistance, and yet could not refrain from 
some petty incivilities toward the new comer. 

" Very good I very good ! " murmured Mouret, as 
he continued to examine the list. Madame Aur^lie 
could not see how she was to get out of the room in a 
decent manner. She was furious with her husband 
that he had not sense enough to make some excuse to 
send for her. 

Finally Marguerite had the intelligence to come to 
the door and ask to speak to her. 

" I am coming," answered the forewoman in a digni- 
fied tone, rejoiced that she at last had some pretence 
for leaving Mouret and Denise alone. Her air was 
so haughty, and her imperial features so noble, that 
the giggling saleswomen were silenced. 

Mouret laid the lists on the table, and looked down 
on the young girl, who sat with her pen uplifted in 
her fingers. She did not avoid his gaze, but became 
very pale. 

** You will come this evening? " he said, in a^low voice. 

THE " B O N II K U R D K S DAME S." 383 

*'No, sir," she replied, "I cannot; my brothers will 
dine with my uncle, and I have promised to be 
there with them." 

"But your foot! you walk with great difficulty." 

" Oh ! I can manage that small distance, for I feel 
much better this morning." 

He in his turn became very pale at this quiet refusal ; 
his lips quivered nervously. He nevertheless replied 
with the air of an employer, who is interested in 
the welfare of one of his employees. 

"But if I beg you to come? You know the regard 
I have for you." 

Denise did not swerve from the respectful manner 
she had adopted. "I am greatly gratified, sir, and 
thank you for your kindness and your invitation. But 
I repeat, it will be quite impossible, as my brothers 
are expecting me to-night," 

She was determined not to understand. The door 
was wide open, and she knew that Pauline would look 
upon her as a fool, and that all the others would laugh 
at her refusing this invitation. Madame Aur^lie, who 
had gone away, Marguerite, who had called her, the 
men who were sitting writing, and whose backs she 
could see, all wished her fall, all manoeuvred to throw 
her into the arms of the master, and at the same 
time fanned the smouldering passion within herself. 

There was a long silence, and then as the noise 
increased without, Mouret said very quietly : 

" When will you come ? To-morrow ? " 

These simple questions troubled Denise very 
strangely. Her serenity vanished, she stammeredJgLc 



" I do not know. I cannot." 

He smiled and tried to take her hand. She drew 
it away. 

" Are you afraid ? " 

But she lifted her head, she looked him full in the 
face, and in her sweet, brave voice said : 

*' No, I am not afraid. I do only what I wish to do, 
and I do not wish to accept your invitation, that 
isalll" • . 

As she ceased speaking an odd noise caused her to 
look around. She saw that the door was being care- 
fully closed by Inspector Jouve, who had taken it upon 
himself to do this. It was, in fact, part of his duty to 
see that the doors were closed. 

No one seemed to notice this simple performance of 
a duty. Clara alone whispered a few words in the ear 
of Mademoiselle de Fdntenailles, who never moved a 

Denise, in the meantime, had risen. Mouret said in 
a low and trembling voice : 

" Listen to me. I love you. You have known this for 
some time, and it is needless to feign a cruel ignorance. 
You need not fear me. Twenty times at least have I 
been tempted to call you into my office, but I preferred 
to speak to you here, where any one may come. I love 
you, Denise." 

She was standing eagerly listening, and still looking 
him full in the face. 

"Tell me, why do you refuse to listen to me? Do 
you want no aid ? Are not your brothers a heavy 
responsibility ? Anything you ask of me f or Ih^m-^* 


She stopped him. 

"Thanks. I have all I need now." 

"But it is liberty I offer you; a life of pleasure and 
luxury. I will settle a certain amount apon you." 

"Thanks. I should find life very wearisome with 
nothing to do. I have earned my bread since I was 
ten years old." 

He became desperate ; she was the first woman who 
had ever resisted him, they had all obeyed his smallest 
caprice like submissive servants, and now here was one 
who said no without even giving a reason. Perhaps he 
had not said enough. He repeated his offer, doubling it. 

"No," she said, without wavering. 

Then his heart spoke. 

"Can't you see, child," he cried, "that I am perish- 
ing for your love ? " 

A long silence followed. Behind the closed door 
was heard the softened murmur of the people still at 
work on the inventory. It was like a murmur of 
triumph, at this defeat of the master. 

He seized her hands. 

She did not withdraw them. All her strength 
seemed to vanish at his touch. How she loved him I 
How gladly would she have thrown her arms around 
his neck and laid her weary head on his breast. 

" I want you. I will have you ! " he repeated. " I 
shall expect to see you this evening." 

His grasp strengthened, and the pain she felt in her 
wrists gave her courage. She hastily withdrew her 
hands, and then, head erect and struggling against b' 
weakness, she said quietly : ^.g.,^^, by (^OOQle 

24 "^ 


" No, leave me. I am not a Clara. Then, too, 3-ou 
love a lady who comes here sometimes. Remain with 
her. I will share no man's heart." 

Surprise rendered him motionless. What on earth 
was she saying, and what did she mean ? As a rule 
these girls whose acquaintance he made thus lightly, 
were not concerned as to what other women he loved. 
He was half tempted to laugh, and yet her maidenly 
dignity was very beautiful. 

" Open the door," she said quietly. "I don't like 
its being shut." 

He obeyed, and with throbbing temples and anguish 
which he could not wholly conceal, he re-called Madame 
Aur^lie, and jBew into a passion about the overstock of 
circulars, which he said must be sold at a reduced 
price, and got rid of. 

This was the rule of the house. Each year every- 
thing that was out of style or that Imd lost its first 
freshness, was sold at a loss of sixty per cent. 

Bourdoucle, who was looking for Mouret, had been 
detained by Inspector Jouve before the closed door. 
He was very impatient, but was not bold enough to 
disturb this tete-d-tSte, 

Was it possible ? On such a day, and with such a 
pale, shadowy little creature ! 

When Mouret appeared, Bourdoucle spoke of the 
fancy silks which had accumulated. 

This was a great relief to Mouret, who could storm 
as much as he pleased. 

''Of what was Bouthemont thinking?" he said 
angrily, as he walked away. "Had,,Jj§yCft^oSeiiisie 


enough as a buyer to feel the pulse of the people before 
committing himself to such a degree ? " 

" What is the matter? " murmured Madame Aur^lie, 
greatly disturbed at this scene. 

The saleswomen exchanged looks of surprise. It 
was six o'clock, and the inventory was completed. 
The sun was shining into the room. Tired families 
were coming home through the streets, bringing flowers 
and green branches with them from the country, and 
dragging weary children by the hand. 

After the bustle of the day the Bonheur was now 
strangely quiet. The shelves, boxes and wardrobes 
were entirely empty. This nudity was the proof of the 
exactness with which the inventory had been accom- 
plished. The clerks were standing in a sea of mer- 
chandize, worth some sixteen million of francs. They 
hoped to have everything in its place at ten o'clock 
that night. 

As Madame Aur^lie returned from dinner she 
brought back with her the statement of the sum that 
had been made by the Bonheur that year, which the 
reports from the different Departments had just enabled 
the managers to give with accuracy. The sum was 
eighty million francs, ten million more than the previous 
year. There was but* one loss, and that was on the 
fancy silks. 

" If Monsieur Mouret is not satisfied now," said the 
forewoman, *'I can't imagine what he wants. But 
there he stands at the top of the great stairs, looking 
like a thunder cloud." 

The young ladies went to look at him. He was' 


388 THE "bonhkur des dames." 

aloiie, and looking down with a moody air at the pi left, 
of merchandize. 

"Madame," said t)enise at this moment, "wonld 
you kindly permit me to retire ? I can do iK)tliirig 
more, as my foot makes me useless, and I must dine 
with my uncle to-night." 

There was a look of general astonishment. She had 
not consented then? Madame Aur^lie hesitated, 
seemed on the point of refusing her consent, while 
Clara shrugged her shoulders. She understood it 
all no>y ; there was not a word of truth in this story 
about the letter! 

When Pauline heard this last incident in the day's 
events, she was busy with Deloche, whose mad joy 
filled her with positive anger; was he so stupid that he 
liked to see a friend throw away her chances in this way? 

And Bourdoucle, who did not dare approach Mouretj 
wandered about in a state of great uneasiness. 

In the meantime, Denise went dpwn the stairs. As 
Bhe reached the first landing, she came upoa a group 
of salesmen and heard her own name ; she knew 
perfectly well what they were saying. They had not 
Been her. 

"Oh! " said Favier, "she is a vicious little creature 
full of caprices ; she was dead in love with one m^.u, I 

And he glanced at Huten, who in his dignity as 
" the second," held himself a little aloof and did not 
join in the pleasantries. He was greatly flattered, 
however, at the respectful manner in which they all 
turned toward him, and he murmured: 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" Oh ! she was a great bore ! " 

Denise, wounded to the heart, stood still, support- 
ing herself by the stair-rail. They saw her and dis- 
persed with stifled laughter. He was right, she was a 
bore and very stupid, in those days when she had 
thought so much of him. But how base he was, and 
Jiow shfe despised him now! A great trouble had 
jassailed her. Was it not strange that she just now, 
had had strength enough to repulse a man she adored, 
•when she had been so weak about tliis miserable fellow, 
when she only fancied herself in love. Her reason 
and her courage wavered before these contradictions 
in her own nature, which she felt herself incapable of 
reading correctly. She walked as fast as possible 
across the hall. A subtle instinct induced her to look 
«p just as an inspector opened the door which had 
been closed since the morning ; she saw Mouret. K< 
was still Standing at the head of the stairs that over- 
looked the entire House. But he had forgotten the 
inventory and all the wealth displayed before him. 
All had disappeared, yesterday's victories, to-morrow's 
colossal fortune. With eager eyes he watched Denise, 
and when she had passed through the door, the whole 
shop became dark I 

Digitized by 


390 THE "bonheur des dames. 



BOUTHEMONT was the first to arrive at the house 
of Madame Desforges, whom he found alone in 
her Louia XVI. salon^ to which brasses and bright 
hangings imparted an air of great gayety. She rose 
with an air of impatience as he entered, saying: 


" Well ! " answered the young man, " when I told 
him that I should drop in to pay my respects to you, 
he said that he was coming." 

" You made him understand that the Baron was to 
be here ? " 

" Certainly. That seemed to decide him." 

They were speaking of Mouret. The year previous 
he had taken a great fancy to Bouthemont, and took 
him about with him a good deal, finally introducing 
him to Henriette, glad to have some one to enliven a 
liaison of which he was beginning to tire. 

It was in this way that the head of the silk room had 
become the confidant of Mouret and the little widow. 
He executed commissions for both, talked of one to the 
other, and settled their little difficulties. Henriette 
in her paroxysms of jealousy, often said things which 
amazed him, as he could not understand how she could 
thus lay aside all her prudence as a woman of the 

world. Digitized by CjOOQIC 


She said, passionately : 

" You should have brought him with you. Then I 
should have been sure of him." 

"Zounds I" he cried with his hearty laugh, "it is 
not my fault if he escapes me sometimes. In fact I 
don't think he has liked me so well of late, though I 
feel precisely the same toward him. He is still fond 
of me, I am sure. If he were not, I should be in a bad 
way at the Bonh^ur,'* 

The truth was, he felt that in consequence of this 
last inventory, his position at the Bonheur des Dames 
was decidedly threatened. He had talked a good deal 
about the rainy season, but he had not been forgiven 
for the over-stock of fancy silks, all the more because 
Huten never ceased to talk of the misfortune. Mouret 
had condemned him, influenced undoubtedly by his 
wish to get rid of an inconvenient witness of certain 
affairs of which he was weary. But in obedience to 
his usual tactics, he took shelter behind Bourdoucle. 
" Bourdoucle and the others who were interested," he 
said, " wished a change made," but he resisted and 
defended his friend. 

"I will wait then," said Madame Desforges, "you 
know that girl ought to be here at five o'clock. I wish 
to see them together. In that way I will get at their 
secret ! " 

She then went on to say in a feverish, excited way, 
that she had asked Madame Aurflie to send Denise to 
her to look at a mantle Hhat fitted badly. When she 
had the girl in her own room, she would find some 
excuse for calling Mouret. Digitized by CjOOgle 


Bouthemont, mIio sat opposite her sofa with his 
handsome laughing eyes, which he vainly tried to 
render serious, riveted upon her face, thought that 
these women of the world could be very hard and very 
hateful when they chose, and that the shop-girls whose 
intimacy he ht»^ occasionally cultivated, would not 
have allowed themselves such latitude of speech and 
such unbounded confidences. 

•*Come now,". he said, "you had best tell me what 
you propose to do, foi- I swear to you that there is 
nothing between them." 

"I tell you he loves her!" she cried. "I care little 
about the others ; they are mere incidents ; accidents 
of a day." 

She spoke of Clara with disdain. It was said that 
Mouret, after the refusal of Denise, had turned to 
Clara, probably to use her as an instrument of ven- 
geance. He had overwhelmed her with presents, and 
made their intimacy in every way as conspicuous as 

The last three months had been with him three 
months of terrible dissipation ; spending money with a 
prodigality of which every one was talking. 

"It is the fault of that creature I " said Henriette. 
" I know that he is ruining himself with other women 
merely because she has rejected him. What do I care 
for his money ? I only wish he were poor. You, who 
are his friend, know how I love him." 

She stopped, ready to burst into tears. Hardly 
knowing what she did, she extended both hands. It 
was true, she adored Mouret for his youth and his 


triumphs. She had never been so thoroughly enslaved 
in her life, and the thought of losing him was like the 
sound of her funeral bell tolling. She was forty, and 
without him what would her life be? 

" Oil ! " she murmured. " I shall have only the 
consolation of revenge, if he deserts me now." 

Bouthemont still held her hand. She was very 
beautiful, but she would be very exacting. No, he 
would be cautious, and would run no risk of compli- 
cating his annoyances. 

" Why do you not go into business on your own ac- 
count?" she asked suddenly, as she withdrew her hands. 

He ^as immensely astonished, but after a moment's 
consideration, said : 

" It would require a large capital. Last year I 
seriously thought of doing so. I am convinced that in 
Paris there is still a field for new enterprises of that 
kind. The Bon MarchS has the left shore ; the Louvre 
the centre ; we with the BonJieur hold the west. 
There is the north where one could certainly establish 
oneself. In fact, I have discovered a superb situation 
behind the Opera House." 


He laughed rather loudly. 

" I was actually fool enough to speak of it to my 
father. Yes, I asked him to raise the money at 

And he went on to narrate the anger of the old 
man, who was already embittered by the magnificence 
of these great Parisian shops, and the contrast tt 
offered to his little shop in the Provinces. C-,ooq(c 

igi ize y g 

394 THE "bonheur des dames." 

Old Boiithemont, who was fairly choked by the 
thirty thousand francs gained by his son, swore that 
he would give his money and that of his friends to a 
hospital rather than bestow a centime on one of 
these great houses, which were the ruin of modern 

"But you know," concluded the young man, "it 
was nonsense, for such an enterprise would require 

"And suppose millions could be found?" asked 
Madame Desforges. 

He suddenly became very serious. Were not these 
merely the words of a jealous woman? She did not 
give him time to question her, but added : 

" You know the interest I take in you. We will 
talk of this another time." 

The door-bell rang. She rose and with an instinc* 
tive movement pushed her chair back. She waited in 
expectant silence in this ^alon^ with its gay hangings 
and its profusion of growing plants at the two windows. 
She stood listening with her eyes on the door. 

" It is he," she murmured. 

The domestic announced : » 

" Monsieur Mouret, Monsieur de Vallegnose." 

Henriette could not restain an angry gesture. Why 
did he not come alone ? He had gone in search of a 
friend to avoid n possible tete-d-tete. Nevertheless she 
smiled and extended her hand to the two men. 

" How rarely I see you now ! I say this to you, 
Monsieur de Vallegnose, as well as to Monsteur 
Mouret." / ^r^Mo 

Digitized by VjOOvlC 


Her great despair was that she was growing stout; 
she dressed invariably in black to conceal her increas- 
ing embonpoint^ but her graceful head, with its dark 
hair, retained all its beauty. 

Mouret said familiarly as he looked at her: 

" It is unnecessary to ask how you are. You look 
as fresh as a rose." 

" I am well, I am happy to say," she replied, " but 
I might have died, and you would not have known it." 

She in her turn looked at him and thought he was 
ill and worn, his eyelids heavy and his complexion 

" Well," she said, in a tone that she tried to render 
pleasant. "I cannot return your flattering remarks. 
You certainly do not look well to-day." 

" It is hard work ! " said Vallegnose. 

Mouret shrugged his shoulders, but made no reply. 
He had just seen Bouthemont and given him a friendly 
nod. In the days of their great intimacy he had 
himself taken Bouthemont away from his Department 
during the heaviest work of the afternoon. But times 
had changed, and he now said in a low voice : 

"You went off too early. They have found out 
yonr absence, and are furious with you." 

He was speaking of Bourdoucle and the others as if 
he himself were not the master. 

"Ah!" murmured Bouthemont, uneasily. 

" Yes, and I must have a little talk with you. Wait 
for me and we will go away together." 

Henriette was now seated and was listening to 
Vallegnose, who was telling her that Madame de Bov^s 

396 THE "bonheur i>es dames.' 

was coming to see her. But she did not take her eyes 
from Mouret, who sat in silence with his eyes fixed on 
vacancy. Then when she complained languidly of 
having no more men at her five o'clock teas, he forgot 
himself, arid said : 

" I thought I should find Baron Hartmann here." 
Henriette became very pale. She was perfectly 
well aware that he came now only to meet the Baron, 
but it was unnecessary to flaunt this indifference in 
her face. The door opened at this moment, and her 
servant approached. Wlien she looked up at him, he 
said in a low voice : 

" It is the young person about the mantle, Madame* 
You bade me inform you when she came." 

Henriette, however, did not lower her voice, 
when she answered the lackey. All her jealousy 
was expressed in the contemptuous coldness of her 
words, when she said : 
" Let her wait." 

** Shall I show her to your dressing-room, Madame ? " 
" No, let her wait in the ante-chamber." 
And when the servant was gone, Henriette resumed 
her conversation with Vallegnose. Mouret, who had 
relapsed into his lassitude, had heard this brief inter- 
lude but without understanding it ; Bouthemont was, 
however, wide awake to all that was going on. Pres- 
ently the door was again thrown open, and two ladies 

"Imagine it," said Madame Marly. "I had just 
driven up to your door when I saw Madame de Boves 
under the arcades." / v-.A/Tt/> 

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*<^Ye&r' explained that lad}-, "it is such a lovely 
evening, and the physician wishes me to keep as much 
as possible in the open air." 

Then after a general interchange of hand-shaking, 
she said to Henriette : 

" You have a new maid, I see ? " 

" No," answered the other, astonished. " Why do 
you ask?" 

"Because I have just seen a young girl in the 

Henriette interrupted her with a laugh. 

" Oh I all these shop-girls look like chambermaids. 
It is a girl who has come to see about the misfit of a 

Mouret looked at her intently as she spoke, with a 
VAgue suspicion of what was going- on. She with 
forced gayety continued to tell how she had purchased 
this miantle the preceding week, at the Bonheur den 

"Indeed!" said Madame Marly. "Then Sauveur 
dresses you no more ? You have left him ? " 

" By no means, my dear. I only wanted to make 
a.n experiment. I was moreover, greatly pleased with 
a purchase I made there a few weeks before, a travel- 
ling cloak. But this time I was not successful. Tlio 
truth is, these great shops are con^monplace. Forgive 
my plain speaking. Monsieur Mouret. You will never 
satisfy a woman who is very fastidious in the matter of 

Mouret made no attempt to defend his establish- 
meut. He watched her steadily, saying to. biinset 

398 THK "bonheur des dames." 

"No, it was impossible, she would never dare." And 
it was Bouthemont who lifted up his voice in behalf 
of the Bonheur. 

*'If all the fashionable women who dress themselves 
at our establishment were to tell you so, Madame, 3'ou 
would be surprised. If j'ou order, and are measured, 
for a garment with us, it will be quite as good as one 
of Sauveur's, and much cheaper, but it is precisely 
because it is cheaper that it seems to you less good." 

"But this mantle of which you speak," said Madame 
de Boves, " does not fit you, it seems. I remember the 
girl now. It is somewhat dark in your anteroom, and 
at first I did not recognize her." 

" And I wondered," added Madame Marly, " where 
I had seen her. But pray do not let us detain you." 

Henriette shrugged her shoulders, with careless 

" Oh ! it does not matter. There is no haste." 

The ladies continued their discussion on the style 
and cut of the garments from these large establish- 
ments. Then Madame de Boves spoke of her hus- 
band, who had gone, she said, on a tour of inspectiorx 
to Saint-Ld, and Henriette mentioned that the illness of 
an aunt had summoned Madame Guibal to Franche 
Comt^ — nor could she expect Madame Bourdelais that 
day, as she being an excellent manager, always shut 
herself up the last of the month with a sewing woman 
to examine her children's clothing and see that every- 
thing was in order. 

Madame Marly was very uneasy. The position of 
her husband at the Lyc^e Bonaparte was in serious 


peril, in consequence of lessons he had given outside 
in second-rate institutions. He earned all the money 
he could to supply the ever increasing demands of his 
household, and she, one evening, seeing his excessive 
depression, had conceived the idea of employing her 
friend Henriette as mediator with the Minister of 
Public Instruction. Henriette silenced and tranquil- 
ized her with a word. 

" You look ill. Monsieur Mouret," said Madame de 

*'Hard work!" repeated Vallegnose, with his sar- 
castic smile. 

Mouret rose hastily, as if ashamed of his absorption. 
He took his place in the circle of ladies, and imme- 
diately became himself again. 

" He had been very much occupied," he said, " with 
all his winter orders coming in." He spoke of a 
superb display of laces ; and Madame de Boves ques- 
tioned him about the price of Alen^on ; she wanted 
to buy some, she said. She wore a mantle that was 
out of date, and coveted every handsome wrap she 
saw, without the smallest hope of ever satisfying her 

"Baron Hartmann," announced the lackey. 

Henriette noticed the cordial grasp of the hand with 
which Mouret met the Baron, who bowed low to the 
ladies, and smiled upon the young man. 

Then as an habituS of the house, he ventured to say : 

"There is a very pretty girl in the ante-chamber; 
who may she be ? " 

"Nobody — nobody at all," answered Madame De^^ 


forges, in her constrained voice. " Only a girl from 
one of the shops." 

The door stood open, the lackey was serving the 
tea. He went out and came in, placed the china tea 
service on the table, and then the plates of sandwiches 
and biscuit. The zalon was filled with light, softened 
by the plants in the windows, and each time the door 
was opened, the dark corner of the anteroom was vis- 
ible, which was lighted only hy panes of ground glass. 
There stood the motionless, patient figure of Denise. 
There was a leather-coV^red bench in the room, but 
Denise was too proud to seat herself there. She felt, 
that she was being insulted. For a half hour she had 
been waiting without receiving any message from: 
the lady. She had been stared at with curiosity by 
the Baron, and the other guests, as they passed her. 
She suddenly perceived Mouret, and at ou^e knew 
what was intended. He, too, did the same. 

"Is that one of your saleswomen?" asked the 
Baron, with his usual good-natured air. 

Mouret, with difficulty, concealed his emotion. 

" I presume so," he answered, " but I do not know 

"It is the little blonde in the cloak room," said 
Madame Marly, wishing to be obliging. " She is next 
to Madame Aur^lie, I believe." 

Henriette was watching him. 

" Ah 1 " he said quietly. 

And he tried to talk of the f^te% given to the King 
of Prussia, but the Baron took a malicious pleasure in 
talking of the saleswomen in these grand establi£|k- 


nients. He pretended that he was desirous of infor- 
mation, and asked a series of questions. Whence came 
they, as a rule? From the country, or from Paris 
itself? and were their morals as bad as was said? 

Then followed a long discussion. . 

*' You really consider them a virtuous class, then ? " 
asked the Baron. 

Mouret defended the virtue of these shop girls so 
energetically, that Vallegnose was immensely amused. 

Then Bouthemont came to the assistance of his chef. 

" Of course," he said, " there were some of all kinds 
among them — adventuresses and good honest girls. 
Formerly, only poor uneducated girls became sales- 
women, while now there were absolutely families — in 
the Rue de Sevres for example — who were bringing up 
their daughters for the Bon MarchS, In fact, if they 
chose to behave themselves they could do so, for they 
lived a sheltered life, and unlike the grisettes, had a 
table and bed provided for them in a respectable place. 
Their lives were not easy ones, certainly, but they 
were comparatively safe. The great trouble was that 
their position was ill-defined. They were accustomed 
to a certain amount of luxury — were often insuffi- 
ciently educated, and yet by association with people 
above them socially, became imbued with tastes far 
above their condition. They formed a class quite by 
themselves. Their misfortunes and their vices arose 
from this fact — " 

" And I must say," interrupted Madame de Bovee, 
"that I know no creatures in the world half so,4i§rTi:> 

, _ „ Digitized by V^OvJ vie 

agreeable. ^ 



And these ladies then began to narrate their yarions 

The truth was that a bitter jealousy existed between 
the saleswomen and their well-dressed customers, the 
ladies whom they involuntarily copied in manners and 
dress, and a still keener jealousy was felt by the 
poorly -dressed customers and the little bourffeoiaes^ 
toward these girls dressed in silk, from whom they 
expected the obsequiousness of a servant, in return 
for the smallest purchase. 

" The triith is," said Henriette, in conclusion, " all 
these creatures are for sale, like their merchandize." 

Mouret had strength to smile. The Baron was 
watching him, and was quite charmed with his self- 
control. Then the conversation wandered off to the 
fStes to be given to the King of Prussia — they would 
certainly be very superb, and Parisian commerce 
would profit by it. 

Henriette said very little; she seemed to be very 
thoughtful; she was divided between the desire to 
keep Denise waiting still longer in the ante-room and 
the fear that Mouret, now duly warned, would go 
away. Finally she rose from her chair. 

*'You will excuse me a few minutes," she said to 
Madame Marly. 

" Most assuredly," that lady answered. " I will do 
the honors while you are away." 

She rose in her turn and began to pour out the tea. 
Henriette went toward the Baron. 

" You will stay a little longer?" she said.- 

"Oh I yes, I want to talk with Monsieur Mouret.* 

We will, with your permission, invade your small 

Henriette then left the room, and her silken train 
swept after with a soft rustle like that made by an 
adder as it glides through the underbrush. 

The Baron immediately led Mouret away, leaving 
the ladies to Bouthemont and Vallegnose. They stood 
near the window of the small salon, talking under their 
breath of a new project. For some time Mouret had 
been cherishing the dream of realizing his former proj- 
ect, of seeing the Bonheur cover the entire land com- 
prised between the JRue Mon%igny to the Rue de la 
Michodiere and the Rue Neuve Saint-Auffustin to the 
Rue du Dix-JDecembre, But as yet there was a very 
large portion of this district that he could not obtain, 
and this was a sting that marred all his joy. So long 
as his principal entrance was on the Rue Saint-Auffustin, 
a dark street of old Paris, his work was imperfect and 
unfinished. He wished to become a part and parcel of 
new Paris, and face on one of the new avenues. He 
saw the colossal Bonheur de% Dames throwing a larger 
shadow than that of the Louvre. But he was contin- 
ually arrested in his project by the Credit Immohilier^ 
which adhered to the original plan of building an 
addition to the Grand Hotel; the plans were all ready 
and they were only waiting for the rubbish to be cleared 
away from the Rue du Dix-Becembre to begin tlie 
work. Mouret was making one last effort to convince 
Baron Hartmann. 

''I want to tell you," began the Baron, "that we had^ 
a meetins^ yesterday, and I came here thinking to 

404 THE "bonheur des dames." 

find you, that I might tell you what they say. They 
still resist." 

The young man made a little nervous gesture. 

" What do they say ? " he asked. 

"They say just what I myself have told you, and 
what I still am more than half inclined to believe. 
Your fa9ade is but aii ornament, and to carry out your 
plans would simply be throwing away enormous 
sums of money." 

This was too much for Mouret. 

"Can't you see," he cried, "that in two years you 
would get your money back ? What does it matter to 
you what is done with this land, so long as it brings 
you in an enormous rate of interest? You would see 
that crowds would pour in and out of a new entrance 
on a street where five or six carriages could roll 
past at their ease." 

"Yes," answered the Baron, laughing, "I see all 
that. You are a poet after your own light. These 
gentlemen consider that there would be danger to you 
in increasing your business. They are more prudent 
in your behalf than you are yourself." 

"Prudent! I don't understand the word! Can't 
you see the figures, and don't they speak for them- 
selves ? Don't they show the constant increase of our 
trade ? At first with a capitaj of five hundred thou- 
sand francs, I made one million. This capital was 
rolled over four times and it became four million, then 
it was turned over ten times and has produced forty 
million. I am now prepared to state, since our hi&t 
inventory, that we have eighty million." ""' '^^^^8^^ 


He raised his voice, and struck the fingers of his 
right hand on the palm of his left, as he spoke. 

The Baron interrupted him. 

" I know, I know. But you can't hope to go on this 

"And why not?" asked Mouret. "What should 
stop us? The only question is how many times can 
we turn our money over." 

" The truth is, you will end by drinking the money 
of Paris as you would a glass of water? " 

" Precisely. Does not Paris belong to women and 
do not women belong to us ? " 

The Baron laid his hands on Mouret's shoulders and 
looked at him with a paternal air. 

"You are a clever fellow," he said, "and I like you. 
I will try once more to make them hear reason. I am 
inclined to think that it would be better to put more 
money into your machine than to risk this addition to 
the Grand H6tel, which to my mind is a hazardous 

Mouret's excitement had suddenly abated. He 
thanked the Baron, but without his usual enthusiasm, 
and his eyes turned toward the door of the ante-room 
with a certain restless anxiety. Vallegnose, seeing 
that they were no longer talking business, now ap- 

He heard the Baron say : 
, " I believe they will avenge themselves." 

"Whom do you mean?" asked Mouret, in some 
embarrassment. / ■ 

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"The women, of course. They are weary of you, 
and you of them, just now." 

He was referring to the rumors that had reached 
his ears of the recent follies of the young man. 

*' I really do not understand you," said Mouret. 

" Never mind then I " answered the Baron, *' but I 
must give you one word of warning. Look out for 
women, they are not to be trusted, they spend your 
money and deceive you," 

He laughed and Vallegnose followed his example. 

Mouret said, " What is the use of money if you can- 
not spend it ? " 

"There I agree with you," the Baron replied. 
" Amuse yourself, my dear fellow. I do not propose 
to teach you morality, nor do I tremble for the interests, 
we have confided to your care; it is not altogether 
disagreeable to be ruined, when one is enough of a man 
to reconstruct his fortunes. But there are other losses 
beside that of money — other suffering — " 

He checked himself, and his smile became very sad. 
He had watched the duel between Henriette and Mouret, 
amazed that any one had the energy for such battles. 
He felt that the crisis was now near at hand, and he di- 
vined the drama when he saw Denise in the ante-room. 

'* Oh I as to suffering, that is not in my programme," 
said Mouret in a tone of bravado. 

The Baron did not speak for some minutes and then 
he replied, slowly : 

"Don't make yourself out worse than you are* 
Money is not everything, my friend. Your heart 
counts for something." Digitized by vjOOgl€ 


Just at this moment, the door of the chamber opened ; 
Moiiret, who was about to speak, started. The three 
men turned. It was Madame Desforges, who putting 
in her head called gaily, and as if in great haste : 

'' Monsieur Mouret ! Monsieur Mouret ! " 

When she saw them, she added : 

" Oh I will you let me have Monsieur Mouret for a 
minute? He must come, for he has sold me a terrible 
mantle. This girl is an idiot, without an idea in her 
head. Wont you come here a moment?" 

Mouret hesitated, recoiling before the scene of 
which his instinct advised him. But he was compelled 
to obey, for the Baron said in his most paternal tone: 

*' Go, my dear fellow, Madame requires your assist- 

Then Mouret obeyed, and as the door closed behind 
him, he fancied he heard a stifled laugh from Valleg- 
nose. Then, too, he could bear no more. Ever since 
Henriette had left the room and he knew that Denise 
was in her jealous presence, he felt an ever increasing 
anxiety, a nervous dread that impelled him from time 
to time to hold his breath to listen, and his heart 
swelled with compassionate tenderness for this young 
girl; he longed to sustain and comfort her. 

He had never before loved in this way. He was a 
very busy man, and Henriette, charming as she unde- 
niably was, and flattering as was her intimacy, was but 
an agreeable pastime, and lately he had begun to look 
upon her as merely a useful friend. His heart now 
throbbed with anguish and he could not sleep by nigg[e 
nor eat by day, for the haunting thought of Der ^ 


Even at this moment he longed to be at her side, to 
protect her from some painful scene. 

They crossed the sleeping-room, now silent and 
empty. Then Madame Desforges opened a door and 
passed into a dressing-room. It was a good sized 
room, hung with red silk, and furnished with a marble 
dressing table and a wardrobe with long mirrors in it. 
As the windows looked out on the court-yard, it was 
very dark and the gas had been lighted on either side 
of the wardrobe. When Mouret entered he saw Denise 
standing just within this circle of light. She was very 
pale and wore a tight fitting coat of black cashmere 
and a simple black hat. When she saw the young man 
she began to tremble. 

" I want Monsieur Mouret to see and judge for him- 
self," said Henriette. " Mademoiselle, please give me 
some assistance." Denise approached and placed the 
mantle over the lady's shoulders. Henriette turned 
and examined herself in the mirror. 

" Well !" she said, " what do you think of it? Do 
you admit that it is a misfit ? " 

" I do indeed, Madame," answered Mouret, to put 
an end to the discussion. ^^ But Mademoiselle will 
take your measure, and we will make you another." 

"No, that won't do," answered Henriette hastily. 
♦*I require it at once. This is too tight about the 
bust and sticks out here at the back of the neck." 

Then in an imperative tone, she said : 

"Looking at it. Mademoiselle, won't correct the 
fault ; try and do something if you please. It is your 
business, not mine." ,.g,,^, ,^ (^OOgle 

THE "BONHEUR DBS dames." 409 

Denise without a word, began to put in some more 
pins. This went on for some time ; she was obliged to 
go from one shoulder to the other, and even once found 
it necessary to kneel to pull the fronts of the mantle 
together. Madame Desforges looked down upon her 
all the time with the hard discontented face of a mistress 
diflScult to please. Delighted that she was able to 
compel this girl to perform these ahnost menial tasks, 
she continued to give brief directions, occasionally 
glancing at Mouret to detect any change of expression 
in his countenance. 

"Put a pin in there, — no, not there, here in the 
sleeve. You do not understand, I see, and now that 
spoils the set of the pocket. Take care^ you are 
pricking me ! " 

Twice Mouret made vain attempts to interfere and 
bring this scene to a close. His heart throbbed pain- 
fully, and he loved Denise more than ever for the dig- 
nified silence she maintained. If the young girl's hands 
trembled a little, at being treated in this way in his 
presence, she accepted the necessities of the position 
with the proud resignation of a courageous nature. 
When Madame Desforges realized that she was gaining 
nothing, and she found she could not draw them 
xnto a self-betrayal, she tried another line of conduct, 
and smiled tenderly on Mouret, treating him openly 
as a favored lover. Pins were required : 

" In that ivory box on the dressing-table, dear, if 
you will be so kind — empty, is it? Be so good a? 
to look on the mantel — behind the mirror, you know 

When he brought the pins, she compelled him to gi^ 



them to her, one by one, looked at hini, and spoke to 
him as if Denise had not been present. 

"I don't think I am hump-backed, am I, Mouret?" 

Denise looked up ; she was very pale, but she went 
on putting in the pins in silence. Mouret's eyes were 
fixed on her heavy band of blonde hair, and her del- 
icate throat; he could no longer see her face, but he' 
imagined the look of shame and distress upon it. He 
knew now that she would never lis'ten to him after 
this woman had made such a parade of their liaison. 
For the first time in his life he felt a brutal longing to 
strike a woman. How could he compel her, to silence? 
How could he tell Denise that he adored her and only 
her, and that for her he was ready to sacrifice every 
one else ? He stepped back a little and said, coldly : 

** It is not worth while, Madame, to waste time in this 
way. I frankly admit that this wrap does not fit you, 
and cannot be made to fit you." 

A long silence followed ; one of the gas burners be- 
gan to whistle. The mirrors in the wardrobe reflected 
the red silk hangings, and the forms of the two women. 
A flask of Verbena water standing open on the dress- 
ing-table gave forth the faded fragrance of a withered 

" This, Madame, is all that I can do," said Denise, 

She felt that she was at the end of her strength. 
Twice, half blind and dizzy, she had pushed the pins 
into her fingers instead of into the material. Was he 
in the plot? Did he intend to avenge himself for her 
refusal, by showing her that other women loved him if 

THE "BONHBUR DBS dames." 411 

she did not? This bitter thought chilled the blood in 
her veins, and she felt that never in her life, not even 
in those terrible days of poverty and loneliness, had 
she needed so much courage as now. It was not so 
much that she w;as humiliated, as that the fact of his 
loving another was made so apparent to her. 

Henriette was examining herself in the mirror, and 
suddenly broke forth harshly : 

"Is this a jest, Mademoiselle? It fits worse than 
before I Look how it strains across the bust I " 

Then Denise made an unfortunate remark ; the truth 
was she could no longer restrain herself: 

" You are a trifle stout ; we cannot prevent that, you 

"Stout I stout, did you say. Mademoiselle?" and 
Henriette turned very pale, in her turn. " It strikes me. 
Mademoiselle, that you are becoming a little insolent." 

They stood looking at each other, both trembling 
with emotion. There was no question now of a dif- 
ference in social position. They were but women 
equals in. their rivalry. One had torn off the mantle 
and tossed it on a chair, while the other placed on the 
table with a nervous motion, the few pins still in her 

" I am astonished," said Henriette, " that Monsieur 
Mouret tolerates such insolence I I thought sir, that 
you were very fastidious in regard to the people you 

Denise had regained her usual serenity. She replied 

^»'«tly= .ogle 

" If Monsieur Mouret retains me in his service, it ^ 


because he has nothing to complain of in my con* 
duct. I am ready to apologize to you if he exacts it." 

Mouret listened, distressed at this quarrel, but 
unable to find any words with which to end it. He 
had the greatest horror of these feminine alterca- 
tions, which were painful to his ideas of good taste. 
Henriette endeavored to make him say something which 
should be condemnatory of the young girl ; but as he 
remained absolutely silent, she was induced to utter 
one last insult : 

" Very good, sir ; it seems that I ani to be made to 
suffer under my very roof from the impertinences of 
your slaves, — sl girl picked up in a gutter 1 " 

Tears gathered in the eyes of Denise ; she had kept 
them back as long as possible, but this last insult was 
unendurable. When Mouret saw that she was weep- 
ing, he no longer hesitated, his whole heart went out 
toward her in one great burst of tenderness. He took 
her hands as he said : 

" Go, my child, and forget that you ever came to 
this house." 

Henriette, choking with mingled rage and despair, 
watched them angrily. 

" Wait a moment," he added, folding the mantle him- 
self. " Take this with you, Madame will buy another in 
its place ; and, do not weep, I beg of you ; you know 
how highly I respect you." 

He accompanied her to the door which he closed 
after her. Denise had not spoken ; only a soft flush 
came to her cheeks, and her eyes filled again with tears, 
but these were delicious tears. "^ "^' '' Google 

THE "bonheur des bames ." 413 

Henriette stood with her handkerchief pressed 
against her lips. All her calculations had been griev- 
ously upset, and she herself was caught in a net that 
she had spread for another. She was in despair that 
her jealousy had led her so far. To be deserted for a 
creature like that! Her pride suffered as much as 
her love. 

" Then this is the girl whom you love ? " she said, 
with panting breath. 

Mouret did not reply at once ; he took two or three 
turns around the room as if struggling with his 
emotion. Then he stopped, short, and said courteously, 
and in a voice that he endeavored to render steadj'-, 
the simple words : 

" Tfes, Madame, you are right.*' 

The gas burner continued to whistle in the close air 
of this dressing-room. The mirrors no longer reflected 
the. red hangings; the room looked cold and sad. Hen- 
riette threw herself into a deep chair, twisting her 
handkerchief in her feverish fingers, repeating amid 
her sobs : " Ah ! Heavens ! how miserable I am I " 

He stood looking at her in silence for some minutes. 
Then he quietly turned on his heel and departed. She, 
left alone, wept bitterly. When Mouret returned to 
the small salon he found no one but Vallegnose there, 
the Baron had returned to the ladies. The young man 
still greatly disturbed by the scene he had passed 
through, seated himself in a quiet corner without 
speaking. His friend watched him for some minutes, 
and seemed to be almost amused by Mouret's avident. 

1 -I -n. 11 1 .1 Digitized by VjOOvI^ 

trouble. Finally he said : ^ 


"Are you very happy nowadays?" 

Mouret did not at once understand him. But at 
last remembering their former conversation on the 
stupidity and uselessness of life, answered : 

" Yes. I am happy because I live. Ah I my dear 
fellow, do not laugh, the hours are few that one passes 
in agony." 

He dropped his voice, and with an attempt at gayety 
continued : 

" Yes, You have guessed the truth. Between them 
they have managed to torture me past endurance. 
But still I do not find lif^ duU or wearisome. This 
girl, who says no to me to-day, shall still be mine ! " 

Vallegnose said quietly : "And then ? " 

" And then ? She will be mine, and that is all I ask. 
You think yourself strong because you refuse to suffer. 
Nevertheless, this does not prevent you from being 
duped. Consent, with a good grace, to being deceived, 
and you will be all the happier." 

Vallegnose shook his head. What was the use of 
working, since money did not purchase everything. 
He, were he in Mouret's place, would close his shop 
and take to his bed, the day he realized that his mil- 
lions would not buy the woman he adored. 

Mouret became very grave, as he listened, but finally 
burst forth, declaring that he believed in the power of 
his will. 

" I want her — she shall be mine ! And if she escapes 
me, you will see what I will do to enable me to forget 
her. Action is a recompense in itself. To act, to 
create, to fight against stubborn facts, to conquer them 

THK "bonheur des dames/^ 415 

or be conquered by them, makes the joy and the health 
of human life I " 

"A very simple recipe, after all,'* murmured the 
other. " You mean that you exhaust and stun vour- 
self, that is all." 

" Well, I prefer to be stunned and exhausted rather 
than to be simply bored to death I " 

Both men now laughed, for they recalled their old 
college discussions. 

Vallegnose, in his usual low, gentle voice, now 
launched forth on a small lecture in regard to the 
platitude of everything. Yes, he was bored to death 
all day long. He worked this year, as he had the last, 
for three thousand francs, but was promised an aug- 
mentation of six hundred — this salary did not much 
more than pay for his cigars. But it was really too 
much trouble to make a change. 

Mouret made some allusion ih reply, to his marriage 
to Mademoiselle de Boves, and Vallegnose replied that 
in spite of the aunt's persistency in living, the mar- 
riage would take place before long. As for himself, 
he really did not care. What was the use of caring? 
nothing ever turned out as he wished. Then he spoke 
of his future father-in-law. Madame de Guibal, he 
said, was spending his money, and leading him a devil 
of a dance. 

"He is happier than you, at all events," said 
Mouret, rising. 

"I dare say," answered Vallegnose, with a half 
yawn. "I have about come to the conclusion that 

, , J , I . • t )> Digitized by VjOOQI^ 

only bad things are amusing I o 

416 THK "bonheur i>es dames." 

Monret wished to leave, but did not care to have 
his departure assume the air of a flight. He therefore 
went hack to the salon and asked for a cup for tea. 

Baron Hartmann at once greeted him with the 
question : 

*^ i:)oes the mantle fit */ " 

Mouret answered that he was ashamed to say it did 
not, and he had washed his hands of it. 

There was'a general exclamation at this. Madame 
Marly hastened to pour out a cup of tea for him, while 
Madame de Boves declared that ready-made garments 
never did fit ; that they were always too narrow across 
the bust. 

Mouret seated himself by Bouthemont's side, who 
had not moved for an hour — Jis he was resolved to 
learn his fate that night, and to know if he were to be 
dismissed or not from the Bonheur. Mouret informed 
him, very abruptly, that it had been decided by the 
other members of the council to part with his services, 
and took a' sip of tea, while protesting that he himself 
was in despair. 

"The truth is," Mouret continued, "I came near 
having an open quarrel with them and was obliged to 
leave the room. But after all, what can I do? I can't 
stand alone against these gentlemen, nor quarrel with 
them on a point' like this," 

Bouthemont, who was very pale, now forced himself 
to express his thanks. 

" Where on earth is Heuriette ! " exclaimed Madame 
Marly. "Who ever heard of a mantle like this 

before?" D,g,t,zedbyC.OOgle 

THE "bonheur des dames/' 417 

This prolonged absence had become, in fact, quite 
embarrassing to the little circle which had been desert- 
ed. But at this mbment Madame Desforges appeared. 

'*You wash your hands of it too, then?" cried 
Madame de Boves, gaily. 

" I beg your pardon ? " 

"Monsieur Mouret has just said that you could do 
nothing with your mantle." 

" Monsieur Mouret was jesting. The mantle will do 
perfectly well," answered Henriette, with great appa- 
rent surprise. 

She was very calm and smiling. She had been bath- 
ing her eyes, probably, for they were not in the least 
red. Although her heart ached nearly to bursting, 
she had strength to hide her torture under her usual 
air of charming social grace. It was with her usual 
gay laugh that she offered sandwiches to Vallegnose. 
The Baron alone, who knew her well, noticed the 
compression of her lips and the sombre fire in her 
eyes. He guessed all that had taken place. 

" Every one to her taste ! " said Madame de Boves, 
as she took a sandwich. "I know women who would 
not buy so much as a ribbon except at the Louvre^ 
others feel just the same about the Bon Marchsy 

"The Bon Marche is extremely provincial," mur- 
mured Madame Marly, "and there is always such a 
crowd at the Louvre,""^ 

The ladies had entered on a discussion about the 
great shops. Mouret was called upon to give his opin- 
ion, which he did, with a great air of trying to be just. 
The Bon MarchS was an excellent establishmeut, solid 


and respectable, but the people who frequented the 
Louvre were certainly more brilliant. 

"But as for yourself," said the Baron, laughing. 
" You prefer the Bonheur de% Dames.^^ 

"Yes," answered Mouret, quietly, "I certainly do, 
and we are very fond of our customers." 

All the women laughed, for he had announced a 
great truth. Women at the Bonheur felt that they 
were in an atmosphere redolent of flattery, an adora- 
tion which even the best of them enjoyed. The 
enormous success of the establishment was due to 
this consciousness. 

" By the way," said Henriette, who wished to show 
that she was perfectly at ease, " what are you doing 
with my protegSe^ Monsieur Mouret ? I mean Madem- 
oiselle de Fontenailles," and turning toward Madame 
Marly, she added: 

" A poor girl, who is in reality a Marquise, but left 
without a sou." 

" At present," answered Mouret, " she makes three 
francs per day, and I intend to marry her to one of my 

" Horrors ! " cried Madame de Boves. 

He looked at her a moment, and then said in his 
calm voice : 

" And why not, Madame ? Is it not better for her 
to marry an honest fellow, even if he be a clerk, than to 
run the risk of meeting a lazy scoundrel on the 

Vallegnose now spoke, by way of averting a oaHi- 

Digitized by CjOOQIC 



•* Don't let him talk, Madame. He will tell you that 
all the old families in France ought to sell calicoes," 

"I am quite willing to maintain," answered Mouret, 
♦* that for many of them it would be a most honorable 

There was a laugh at this, but some of the persons 
present were none too well pleased. He continued to 
praise what he called the aristocracy of labor. A bright 
color rose to the cheeks of Madame de Boves, whose 
poverty compelled her to I'esort to most mortifyitig 
expedients, but Madame Marly, on the contrary, 
greatly approved of what was said, as she thought of 
her poor husband, who at that moment entered the 
room. When he had thanked Madame Desforges for 
her application in his behalf to the Minister, he glanced 
at Mouret in the timid fashion of a man who is brought 
face to face with the evil he most dreaded. He was 
startled therefore when Mouret appealing to him, said : 

"Is it not so, sir, does not work lead to success?" 

"Work and economy," answered the professor with 
a little shiver. "You must not forget economy, sir." 

Bouthemont all this time was sitting quite still. 
Mouret's words wei*e ringing in his ears. He rose at 
last and going to Henriette, said in a very low voice : 

" He has dismissed me, but if it is in my power, he 
shall repent. You will hear of me near the Opera." 

She looked up at him with a strange flash in her 

"You may rely on my assistance," she said, "but 
wait a moment." 

She beckoned Baron Hartmann into the recess ^ 

420 THE "bonheur des dames/* 

window. Without the smallest circumlocution she 
recommended Bouthemont to him ; spoke of him as a 
man who would in his turn revolutionize Paris, and 
who meant to establish himself on his own account. 
When she spoke of giving some assistance to her new 
protegS^ the Baron could not restrain a gesture of terror. 
This was the fourth friend she had recommended to 
him, and the Baron felt that his position was becoming 
ridiculous. But he did not refuse positively ; in fact 
his fancy was pleased by the idea of another Bonheur 
dea Dames, for this was not the first time that he had 
lent his assistance to rival enterprises. He promised to 
look into the matter. 

"We must have a little talk to-night," said Hen^ 
riette in Boutheraont's ear. "Come in at nine o'clock. 
I wfll keep the Baron.'' 

The salon was quite gay at this moment. Mouret 
had regained his usual cheerfulness, and the Baron 
was listening to him with great admiration. The duel 
was over then. Henriette lay on the ground sorely 
wounded, but she was not the woman to whom Mouret 
would bow the knee, and the Baron thought of the 
fragile girl he had seen in the ante-room. She was the 
one after all. 

Digitized by 




IT was on the 25th of September that work began 
on the new fagade of the Bonheur des Dames, 
Baron Hartmann, according to hig promise, had pushed 
the affair through at the last meeting of the Credit 
Immohilier^ and Mouret was very near the realization 
of his dream. This fa9ade on the Rue du Dix-Decem- 
1bre was like the blossoming of his pet project. He 
wished to make a file of the laying down of the first 
stone. He distributed presents to his salesmen, and 
gave them game and champagne at dinner. His good 
humor was very noticeable, and the air of triumph 
with which he used his trowel and mortar was very 

For weeks he had been restless and nervous, but this 
day he was once more like himself. But after dinner 
his good spirits vanished ; he seemed feverish and his 
smiles were forced. The next day Clara wished to 
be disagreeable to Denise. She had noticed Colom- 
ban's admiration for herself and she took it into her 
head to laugh at the Baudus. 

As Marguerite was cutting her pencil she said in a 
very audible voice : 

" You know my admirer opposite. He will end by 
making trouble forme in that dark shop which no one 
ever enters." Digitized by (^OOgle 

422 l-HE ^^BONHBint »fi« llAMtS.^ 

"But you know he is to marry the daughter of the 

" Is that so ? Then it would be a capital joke to 
carry him off before her very face and eyes," answered 

She went on talking in this vein, rejoicing to see the 
indigiiant color mount to the face of Denise. The 
young girl forgave all insults offered to herself, but 
the thought of her cousin Genevieve dying from the 
deliberate cruelty of this worthless woman Was mor6 
than she could bear. 

A customer appeared, and as Madame Aurflie waa 
just called away, Denise said to Clara : 

'* Mademoiselle, you had better attend to this lady 
rather than waste your time talking." 

" I am not talking." 

" Don't answer me, I beg. Attend to this lady.'* 

Clara was conquered, she could only obey. When 
Denise exercised her authority it was quietly and 
without raising her voice, and no one thought of rebel- 
lion. Her very gentleness had won her great influence. 

Marguerite went on cutting her pencil ; she was the 
only person in the room who approved of the persistent 
resistance offered by Denise to Mouret. She never 
admitted her own past misconduct, but with a sad 
shake of her head, said that if a girl only realized what 
she brought on herself by levity she would see how 
much better it would be to behave herself. 

'* You are angry?" said a voice just behind Denise. 

It was Pauline ; she had heard and seen what had 
xken place, and now spoke in a low voice, with a smiley 


*' And I have a right to be," answered Denise. " I 
do not choose that such insubordination shall exist in 
this room." 

" Of which you may be queen, as soon as you say 
the word." 

Pauline did not altogether comprehend the motives 
of her friend's conduct. Slie had married Baugh in 
August, " a great piece of nonsense," as she said gaily. 
The terrible Bourdoucle treated her now as of no 
account. She was in constant dread that he would bid 
her and her husband go and love each other elsewhere, 
for matrimony was not approved of in the Bonheur dea 
Dames. Consequently when she hflppened to meet 
Baugh in the galleries she pretended not to know him, 
but she had just had a great fright. Inspector Jouve 
had caught her talking with her husband behind a 
great bale of goods. 

"And he is always watching me," she added to 
Denise, as she concluded her story. 

Jouve in fact now appeared, but when he saw Denise 
he bowed respectfully and passed on. 

"I know he meant to threaten me if you had not 
been here," said Pauline. "Tell me, if I get into 
trouble will you use your influence in my behalf? 
Don't look so amazed, you know perfectly well that 
you can do what you choose in the Bonheur.^^ 

So saying, she hurried back to her duties. Denise 
colored and was greatly annoyed at these friendly 
allusions, and at the constant flattery she received. • 

When Madame Aur^lie returned and found the room 

Digitized by CjOOQIC 


quiet and orderly, under the control of " the second," 
she gave her a friendly smile. 

Bourdoucle was the only person who was not dis- 
armed ; he had taken an intense dislike to Denise in the 
very beginning. He detested her for her very sweet- 
ness, and struggled against her on account of the in- 
fluence she exercised over Mouret, which influence he 
felt would sooner or later, imperil the safety of the 
house. The commercial ability of Mouret seemed to 
him to have become blimted since he had fallen in 
love with this woman. Bourdoucle had a superstitious 
feeling that the wealth that came from women would 
vanish through this one. 

No woman, however fair, had ever moved him, he 
was totally without pussion, and this constant inter- 
course with them at the Bonheur wearied him beyond 
endurance. He did not believe in the honesty and 
purity of Denise nor in the frankness of her refusal. 
In his opinion she was pla3ung a part, and playing it 
most skilfully, for had she yielded at once, Mouret 
would have forgotten her by this time, but her resist- 
ance had made him her slave. 

A woman of experience could not have managed 
better than this girl. Consequently Bourdoucle never 
met her and looked into her sweet and gentle face, 
without a feeling of positive fear. How was he to 
frustrate her plans, and expose her hypocrisy? 

His only hope was that he might penetrate her 
artifices and discover something which would cause her 
dismissal from the Bonheur. 

"Watch her well, Jouve," said Bourdoucle over 

THE "bonheur DES DAMES^." 425 

and over again, to the inspector, "I will reward 

But Jouve knew what he was about, and had a very 
shrewd suspicion that he had best take the side of this 
girl, who he did not doubt would reign over them all 
some day. He thought her adorably pretty. His 
Colonel in other days had killed himself for just such 
a little creature with as insignificant a face, but a face 
nevertheless which won every heart. 

"I am watching," he answered, "but upon my word 
I have discovered nothing." 

All sorts of stories were in circulation, in spite of the 
superficial homage and respect shown to Denise. The 
entire House believed that Huten had been her lover 
and some declared that he was still; Deloche was 
another, they were constantly seen talking together. 

" Then you have found out nothing about the young 
man in the lace room ? " asked Bourdoucle. 

"No sir, nothing as yet," answered the inspector. 

It was with Deloche that 'Bourdoucle hoped to crim- 
inate Denise, and he himself had seen them laughing 
one morning together in the basement. In the mean- 
time he was very respectful to her. He no longer 
disdained her, and felt that his ten years of service 
would count as nothing if they came into oppositiout 

"Keep your eyes on that Deloche," he repeated 
to the inspector, "they are perpetually together. If 
you find out anything, let me know, and I will attend 
to the rest ! " 

Mouret all this time was in a state of perpetua' 
anguish. This child tortured him almost beyon4)^le 


durance. He thought of her as she entered the Soiv- 
heur^ with her stout leather shoes, her scanty black 
dre/s and her half frightened air. Everybody laughed 
at her, and he himself had thought her ugly, and now 
he would have gone on his knees to win one look. 
For months she had been merely a curiosity in his eyes, 
he amused himself at her inexperience without the 
smallest idea that she was slowly winning his heart. 
Perhaps he had loved her at the very first moment, 
who could tell? He remembered that evening when 
they walked together under the chestnut trees in the 
Tuileries. He heard again the laughing voices of the 
children and the splash and drip of a distant fountain 
as she walked by his side in silence, and now he loved 
her, loved her with every fibre of his being, and she 
was such a child! How was it possible? The light 
breeze made by her robe as she passed, seemed so 
strong that he could not stand up against it. 

He had struggled for weeks and months, and even 
now he was at times indignant at his fally. What 
had she done to attract him ? Nothing. She was not 
one of those imposing creatures of marvellous beauty 
that take men's hearts by storm ; no, she was a gentle 
little being without any astonishing amount of in- 
telligence, and he smiled at the thought of her dSbut 
as a saleswoman at the JBonheur. 

After every one of these angry struggles he was 
incensed and ashamed as if he had insulted his 
idol. She had all that he most admired in a 
woman, courage, gayety, simplicity, and her gentle- 
ness exercised a wonderful control o^t^ii'byilWOQB* 


tbotight of her smile, the radiance of bef face, the 
dewy freshness of her blue eyes, the laughing dimples 
in her cfaeehs, and of the golden beauty of her blonde 
tresses. He admitted frankly to himself that he was 
conquered, 9s much by her rare intelligence as by her 
beauty. The other saleswomen had assumed a little 
exterior polish, while she retained all her natural grace 
and the savor of her origin. The most practical ideas 
were in that graceful brow, whose outlines denoted a 
strong will and a love of order. And he was ready to 
implore her pardon for the blasphemies he had uttered 
in his hours of revolt. 

Why had she refused to listen to him? Over and 
over again he had besought her. He told her that he 
was willing to gratify her ambition and make her fore* 
woman whenever there was a vacanc}', and yet she 
refused to listen to him. He could not understand 
it. Of course the girl would yield at last ; of this he 
was sure, for he had but a low opinion of a woman's 
virtue, and at this thought the veins of his forehead 
swelled to bursting. 

He dreamed of Denise all night. Her image followed 
him to bis desk, where he sat signing letters and checks 
from nine to ten o'clock ; a work that he accomplished 
mechanically. At ten o'clock the twelve most inter- 
ested members of the Council met, and at this meeting 
he was obliged to preside. All questions of the daily 
routine of the Bonheur were now discussed, and above all 
rose the voice of this woman, who exercised this strange 
fiascination over him. He saw her radiant smile in the 
most critical moment of some financial combination«Ogle 

428 THE "bokhetjr dks damks." 

After this meeting was over, Denise in spirit, accom- 
panied him through the House, and in the afternoon 
from two to four lingered near his chair while he 
received a crowd of manufacturers from all parts of 
France, bankers and inventors, a continual going and 
coming of wealth and intelligence. 

If he forgot her for one brief minute while deciding 
on the ruin or prosperity of some particular branch of 
industry, he turned toward her again with a start, his 
voice became suddenly hushed as he asked himself of 
what good was this mad pursuit of wealth since she 
would accept none of it at his hands. 

It was during his daily inspection of the Bonheur 
des Dames that he felt his misery most acutely. To 
have built this gigantic machine and then cease to 
care for it because a little girl would not listen to 
him ! He had a thorough contempt for himself when 
he thought of it. 

In the basement as he stood before the slide that 
brought down the packages from above, in a great 
river, when he heard the van rattle away from the 
door, and realized that he held in his hands the fates 
of some of the greatest manufacturers in France, he 
remembered that he could not buy a kiss from one of 
the little saleswomen in his employment. 

He stopped to watch great boxes and bales un- 
packed, and remembered that he had offered silks and 
velvets to this young girl and that she had refused 

He walked to the other end of the basement, and 
beheld long corridors stretching away, all lighted by 


gas, all filled with " reserved stock." Then he stood 
and looked at the tables now covered with bundles and 
boxes, which twenty men were dividing and placing in 
compartments, of which each bore the name of a quar- 
tier in Paris. There was much of the uproar atten- 
dant on the departure of a steamer, and Mouret felt a 
gentle interest in seeing this branch of the service, but 
all the time he was feeling that he would leave every- 
thing if she persisted in saying no. 

He went up-stairs, trying to shake off this persistent 
thought, and stopped at the Department where foreign 
orders were filled. This Department was increasing in 
importance and required at present some two hundred 
employ&, some of whom opened, read and classified 
the letters that came from the provinces and foreign 
lands, while others packed into boxes the merchandise 
ordered by these correspondents. And the number 
of letters was increasing so rapidly that no one now 
took the trouble to count them ; they were weighed 
and amounted to one hundred pounds daily, and this 
was on the increase. This ought to have delighted 
him, but he remained unmoved, and wandered about 
with but one fixed idea, that in spite of the brilliant 
success, of which the proofs were 80 apparent, he was 
utterly powerless, for she said no — always no. 

He went to the desks where the bills were made out 
and found twenty-five clerks at work. 

He went to another room, where the accounts were 
kept of the percentage due the salesmen, and a sense 
of the uselessness of all this money — of the folly of 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


all this trouble, pressed heavily upon him, for she said 
no, always no. 

This noi like thunder, filled Lis ears and echoed 
thtx)ugh every Department he entered. He went 
up-stairs and stood on the bridges, prolonging his 
examination, and making it distressingly minute. The 
House had grown enormously — he had a magnificent 
future before him, but it was no, always no. 

The people he employed would make a little town. 
He had fifteen hundred salesmen, a thousand more 
employes, of whom forty were inspectors and seventy 
cashiers. In the kitchen, alone, thirty-two men were 
employed, three hundred and fifty boys in the shop, 
wearing livery, and in the stables — ^the almost totoI 
stables on the Hue MonBigny^ opposite the Bonheur^ 
there were one hundred and forty-five hoi'ses. The 
four wagons, which had been the original number, had 
grown to sixty-two — ^and these dashed all over Paris, 
driven by coachmen stiff and erect, who wore the 
colors of the Bonheur des Dames, 

These wagons wei»e seen beyond Paris, as far as the 
Forest of Saint Germain, whei-e the burnished panels 
glittered through the drooping branches of the old 

Mouret indulged a dream of some day seeing these 
wagons rolling on every highway in France — from one 
frontier to the other. But he never went irow to look 
at his horses, of which he had been so proud and so 
fond. Of what good was this conquest of the world, 
since it was no, always no. He continued to look 
every night at the day's receipts, inscribed upon a cauti 


which L'Homme, the cashier, placed regulariy on the 
steel pin by his side — this sura always reached one 
hundred thousand francs, and was often eight or nine 
hundred thousand on days when any especial novelties 
were offered — ^but these figures no longer reverberated 
in his ear like the blast of a trumpet, and he began to 
feel almost a contempt and loathing for money. 

But Mouret's sufferings were yet to increase. He 
became jealous. One morning Bourdoucle told him 
that the little girl in the cloak room was trifling with 

**How do you mean?** he asked, becoming yery 

** Yes, she has lovers in this very house 1 " 

Mouret summoned strength to smile. 

" I had forgotten her, my dear fellow — speak. Tou 
need have no fear. Who are these lovers ? " 

^Huten, it is said, and a big stupid fellow in the 
lace room, Deloche by name. I don't speak of my 
own knowledge — but other people say that it is a 

There was a long silence. Mouret pretended to be 
arranging the papers on his desk. Presently he said, 
without looking up: 

** Try and bring me proofe of what you say ; though 
as I told you I have nearly forgotten her existence, 
but you know we can't tolerate such things in our 

Bourdoucle answered quietly : 

^' You shall have proof enough one of these 4avs. ,' 
am on the lookH)ut." Di,,.edbyC6ogle 


Then Mouret lost the remainder of his tranquility. 
He never had courage to refer to this conversation 
again, but lived in perpetual fear of a catastrophe. 
His anxiety rendered his temper something terrible, 
and the whole establishment lookr d on in dismay. He 
no longer concealed himself behind Bourdoucle, but 
performed the executions with evident* delight, and 
took pleasure in the abuse of that power which 
counted for nothing in the fulfillment of his only 
desire. Each of his inspections became a massacre, 
and when he appeared every one held his breath in 
painful suspense and dread. Tlie dull season was 
coming on, and every day he dismissed a number of 
clerks. At first he thought of dismissing both Huten 
and Deloche — then he reflected that if he did not 
retain them in his employment he should know noth- 
ing of their movements ; he made others pay for this 
precaution, however, and when he was alone at night 
he paid for it, too. 

One day, especially, terror reigned. An inspector 
became convinced that the glover, Mignol, stole. 
There were always strange-looking women hanging 
about his counter, and one of them had been arrested 
with sixty pairs of gloves on her person. A watch 
was instituted, and the inspector caught Mignol in the 
very act — aiding and abetting the adroit thieving of a 
tall blonde — a woman who had been employed at the 
Louvre^ but had now fallen very low.. The way 
Mignol managed was very simple : he pretended to try 
on a pair of gloves for her, while she packed away as 

Digitized by CjOOQIC 


many as she could ; then he took her to the desk where 
she paid for one pair. 

Mouret happened to be there at that time. As a 
rule, he preferred not to interfere in such affairs, which 
were by no means infrequent, for in spite of the appar- 
ent order of this great machine, there was scarcely a 
week that some employ^ was not dismissed for thefts. 

The managers thought it wise to keep such matters 
as quiet as possible, and never called upon the police 
for assistance. This is in fact one of the fatal faults 
in these great bazars. 

But this day Mouret had been sadly out of temper, 
and was extremely violent toward little Mignol, who 
trembled with fear. 

"I have ten minds to call in the police," cried 
Mouret. "Answer me at once, who is this woman? 
Tell me the truth, or you will regret it.'* 

The woman had been taken away, and two of the 
saleswomen were searching her. 

" I do not know her, sir," stammered Mignol. ** She 
came to my counter — " 

" You are lying 1 " interrupted Mouret, with re- 
doubled violence. "Is there no one here who will 
give me the information I ask ? You hear me, all of 
you I It seems to me that I am in the forest of Bondy 
— robbed and pillaged at every turn. I am inclined 
to make a new rule, and not allow a salesman to 
leave at night without being searched." 

Three or four customers, who were buying gloves, 
were frightened out of their wits, and one or two of 
the salesmen began to expostulate. Digitized by C^OOgle 



- ** Silence ! " he cried, indignantly, " or I will dismiss 
you all." 

Bourdoucle now appeared, dismayed at the idea o^ a 
scandal. He said a few words in a low voice to Mig- 
nol. The affair was serious, and Mignol was led to 
the inspectors' office near the door, on the Rue Gaillon, 
The woman was there, calmly fastening her dress. She 
had given the name of Albert L'Homme. Mignol 
hearing this, and again questioned, lost his head, and 
said that he was not the guilty party — it was Albert 
who sent these women to him. At first they did no 
harm, and when he saw them beginning to steal he was 
too far compromised to expose them. 

Mouret now learned of a series of unprecedented 
thefts carried on by these women, — of purchases which 
a salesman neglected to call out when he took a cus- 
tomer to the desk, and the proceeds of which he shared 
with the cashier. He heard how clerks went out at 
night with packages of goods under their coats. For 
fourteen months this sort of thing had been going on, 
but Mignol could give no idea of the amount that had 
been stolen. The news spread all over the shop. Un- 
easy consciences trembled, and even the most honest 
feared dismissal. Albert had been summoned to the 
inspector's office. Then old L'Homme, looking as if 
he were about to have a stroke of apoplexy, went in 
also. And then Madame Aur^lie was called, and she 
with her head thrown haughtily back and a face as 
white as marble, also disappeared behind the closed 

This explanation lasted a long timecjgiti^bone knew 

THE "bokheur DKS D A m k s/' 43o 

precfifeely what took place. It was said that the fore- 
woman had slapped her son's fitce, and the honest old 
father had shed bitter tears, and that Moaret, contrary 
to all his habits, had sworn like a trooper, and declared 
that he would have the guilty parties imprisoned. But 
the scandal was eventually hushed. Mignol was dis- 
missed, Albert disappeared two days later. His mother 
had probably demanded and obtained the favor of a 
trifling postponement of the sentence. The disgrace 
to the family was less. 

But a panic still reigned, for Mouret was in every 
part of the establishment at once, and if any one so 
much as looked up as he passed, he would say: 

"Have you nothing to do, sir, but to count the flies 
on the ceiling ? Go to the desk ! " 

The storm burst one day on Huten's head. Favier, 
now "the second," was eager to di-slodge Huten and 
take his place. He made continual reports to the 
managers, and was perpetually exposing Hu ten's faults. 

One morning as M(»uret was passing through the 
silk room he saw Favier changing tlie tickets on a 
whole bale of black velvet. 

" Why are you lowering the price of these velvets? " 
he asked ; '> who bade you do so? " 

The "second," who had made an ostentatious dis- 
play of his occupation, answered with an air of inno- 
cent surprise : 

"It was Monsieur Huten, sir." 

"Monsieur Huten! and where is that gentleman?'* 

And when Huten appeared, there was a stormy scene. 

, By what right had he changed the prices of these vet 


vets; who had authorized him to do so? Hnten 
looked greatly astonished, and said that he had given 
no positive orders to Favier; he had simply discussed 
with him the wisdom of such a step. 

Then Favier put on the air of an employ^ who finds 
himself under the disagreeable necessity of contradict- 
ing his superior, though of course, he said, he was ready 
to accept the responsibility of the act, if Huten insisted. 

Mouret exploded : 

" Understand, Monsieur Huten," he cried " that I 
willtolerate no such impertinent independence. The 
directors alone have the power to change any of the 

He continued in a tone of sharp reproof, which sur- 
prised the salesman, for generally these discussions 
took place apart. They felt that Mouret was gratify- 
ing a personal enmity, and they remembered that Hu- 
ten was supposed to be the lover of Denise. It was 
evidently a comfort to him to make the salesmen feel 
that he was master, and he exaggerated things and 
ended by insinuating that the lowering of the prices 
on the velvets hid some dishonesty. 

" Monsieur," said Huten, respectfully, " I intended 
to ask you to reduce the velvets ; they have not been 
a success." 

Mouret stopped him, saying : 

" Very good, sir, we will examine into the matter, 
and don't let us have any more of this sort of thing if 
you wish to remain in this House." 

He walked off, leaving Huten in a state of rage, and 
vith only Favier to listen to his complaints. He would 


Bend in his resignation, he said; he would fling it in 
the face of this brnte. 

Favier, with affected sympathy, led him on, saying 
that Mouret had been a very uncomfortable master for 
some time. 

"Yes, and why?" asked Hiiten. " Is it my fault if 
that little scamp in the cloak room made eyes at me, 
and now finds me in her way? Let her look out, 
that's all, if she comes in my path." 

Two days later, as Huten was going up to one of the 
work-rooms in the attic to give an especial order, he 
started on seeing at the end of a corridor, Denise and 
Deloche, leaiiing out of an open window, so absorbed 
in conversation that they never turned their heads. 
The idea of surprising them came to- him suddenly, 
and when he saw that Deloche was weeping, he con- 
ceived the idea of betraying them. He therefore 
retired noiselessl3% and meeting Bourdoucle and Jouve 
on the stairs he told them some story about a leak in 
the roof which they decided to investigate at once. 

Bourdoucle was the first to see Denise and Deloche ; 
he stopped short, and bade Jouve go at once for Mon- 
sieur Mouret, while he himself would remain there. 
The inspector was compelled to obey, although greatly 
annoyed at being involved in such an affair. It was a 
very quiet corner of this great establishment in which 
Denise had taken refuge, and only to be reached 
through a maze of winding corridors and stairs. The 
work-rooms occupied the entire attic, a series of rooms 
furnished with long tables and stoves. These rooms 
were occupied summer and winter by the workwomeD 



of the different Departments. The occasional cudtoin- 
ers who were brought here to give an order, stopped to 
jtake breath with a dizzy sensation, as if they had been 
going round and round for hours. 

Denise had often found Deloche waiting for her here. 
As "tlie second" it was her duty to bring the orders 
up stairs from the cloak Department and see that they 
were executed. It was very easy for him to invent 
some pretext to follow her, and then pretend to be 
greatly surprised to meet her. She ended by laughing 
at him, and it got to be a tacit rendezvous in this 
place. The corridor ran along by the side of the 
reservoir, an enormous one, and outside on the roof 
there was another of the same size, reached by an 
iron ladder. 

Deloche leaned against the reservoir as he talked. 
There was a ripple and sound of running water which 
was pleasant to hear. Denise looked around from time 
to time with a feeling that they were not quite alone ; 
but very soon the window attracted them, and they 
leaned out talking and laughing together, exchanging 
reminiscences of their native province. Just below 
them extended the immense skylight of the central 
gallery, a lake of glass bordered by precipitous roofs 
like sharp, pointed rocks, and looking up they beheld 
the blue sky which was reflected in the glass with all 
its soft fleecy clouds. Deloche was talking of Vsi- 
ognes that day. " I was six years old ; my mother took 
me to market in a carriole. You know we had to start 
at five o'clock in the morning. I can remember now, 
how loy^y it was i weye yau.ev^ thfiiJe4d^^(^QQQl^ 


" Yes," answered Denise looking off into the distance, 
" I went there once, but I was very little. I remember 
that the turf grew green on both sides the road, and 
sheep were browsing." 

She stopped with a faint smile. 

" Near us were narrow paths running along for leagues 
under tall trees. We had meadows, and hedges taller 
than I, in which were horses and cows. We had a 
little river, and the water was deliciously cool in one 
place that I remember so well." 

** It was just the same with us ! " cried Deloche in 
great delight. " There was grass, hawthorn blossoms 
and great elms, so green — a green that is never^seen in 
Paris. Ah ! what happy hours I have spent on that 
little stony path coming down from the mill." 

And their voices died away, they remained with 
their eyes fixed on the sunny lake made by the glass. 
A mirage rose from this blinding water, they saw a 
great stretch of pasture land bathed in luminous vapor 
in which the horizon faded away into the delicate gray 
of a water color sketch. And from below came the 
dull roar and thud of the great machine, which in 
their dream was transformed into the wind rustling 
among the grain and passing through the thick foliage 
of the tall trees. 

"Ah! Mademoiselle Denise," stammered Deloche, 
" why are you not kinder? I love you so much." 

Tears rose to his eyes, and as she tried to speak he 
continued hastily: 

" No, let us talk a little more. When people come from 
the same country they always have mach to talk »bout.!' 



He choked with emotion, and she said gently: 

*'You are not reasonable. You promised to speak 
no more of that. It is quite impossible. I have a 
great friendship for you, because you are kind and 
good, but I wish to remain free.'' 

" Yes, I know,^' he answered in a low agitated 
voice. " You do not love me. You need not say it, I 
know it already ; there is nothing in me that you can 
love. I have never had but one happy hour, and that 
was the evening we were at Joinville. You remember? 
For a moment when we were under the trees I thought 
your arm trembled and 1 was stupid enough to 

But she stopped him. Her quick ear had heard the 
sound of Bourdoucle and Jouve's steps at the end of 
the corridor. 

" Hark ! " she said, " I hear some one." 

" No," he answered, preventing her from leaving the 
window, ** no, it was the reservoir ; the strangest noises 
come from there ; one would sometimes think it was 
full of people." 

And he continued his tender caressing complaints. 
She did not listen to him. Slie was simply soothed by 
the music of his loving tone, and continued to look 
down on the roofs of the Bonheur des Dames, On the 
right and on the left were other galleries and other 
long halls, while the chimney of the kitchen smoked 
furiously at a little distance. 

When Denise recalled her thoughts she saw that 
Deloche had taken her hand, and bis £aoe was so 
agitated that ^he did not withdraw it. ,.g,^^, by (^oogle 


"Forgive me,'* he murmured. "It is all over now. 
I should be most unhappy were you to take your 
friendship from me. Yes, I begin to understand it all." 

His emotion choked him, but he tried to steady 
his voice. 

" I know my lot in life. It is not now that Fate 
will change it. I was miserable in Valognes, miserable 
in Paris. I have been four years here, and I am the 
lowest in my Department. I want to tell you not to 
be unhappy about me. I will not disturb you any more. 
Try to be happy. Try to love some one. Let me see 
you happy and I shall be so too." 

He could say no more. As if to seal his promise he 
pressed his lips on the hand of the young girl; it was 
the humble kiss of a slave. 

She was deeply touched, and said with a tenderness 
that softened the pity of the words: 

" My poor boy ! " 

They started and turned. Mouret stood before 

For ten minutes Jouve had been seeking the manager 
all through tlie great building, and finally found him 
on the scaffolding of the new fa§ade. Hue du Dio> 
Decembre. This was his refuge when everything went 
wrong. He came away white with plaster and his feet 
muddy from the water running from the faucets. 
When Jouve found him he was examining some de- 
signs for the mosaics and tiles, which were to decorate 
the facade. At first he had answered that he could not 
be disturbed, but a word from' the inspector induced 
him to follow him at once* Digitized byC^ooglc 


Boardaucle and Jouve thought it best to disappear. 
Deloche fled and Denisc was left alone with Moiiret 
She was paler than usual, but her eyes met his frankly. 

" Mademoiselle," he said, "will you have the kindness 
to follow me ? " 

She followed him. They descended two flights, 
passed through the furniture rooma and carpet rooms, 
all in silence. When he reached his cabinet he threw 
open the door wide. 

" Enter, Mademoiselle." 

And he closed the door. He walked to his desk. 

The new private office of the manager was more 
luxurious than the old one. Hangings of green velvet 
had replaced the former ones of rep, but the only 
ornament on the walls was the portrait of Madame 
H^douin, a calm smiling face looking down from a gilt 

"Mademoiselle," he said at last, endeavoring to pre- 
serve his cold gravity, " there are certain things that 
cannot be tolerated here. Propriety of conduct is 
absolutely enjoined upon — " 

He stopped, vainly seeking words that should not 
betray too much of the rage that choked him. What! 
Did she love this country lout instead of himself? Did 
she prefer this fellow, who was the laughing stock of 
the entire house, to him, the master? Had he not seen 
him covering her hand with kisses? 

But to all this he made no allusion. 

**I have been very good to you, Mademoiselle," he 
continued, making a new effort to speak. " I did not 
expect to be rewarded in this way." C ooQie 

igi ize y g 


Denise on entering the room had been attracted by 
the portrait of Madame H^douin, and in spite of her 
emotion, continued to study it. Each time she entered 
and came out of that office, her eyes met those of this 
painted lady. She was a little afraid of her, but this 
time she regarded her as a protection. 

"I admit, sir," she answered gently, " that I did wrong 
in stopping to talk, and I ask your pardon for the misde- 
meanor. This young man came from my own province." 

**I will dismiss him !" cried Mouret, his despair find- 
ing utterance in this passionate exclamation. 

And now dropping his dignity as a manager reprov- 
ing a saleswoman for disobedience to orders, he burst 
forth in vehement reproaches. 

" Was she not ashamed of herself? " he asked, and 
then followed atrocious accusations and Huten's name, 
all with such vehemence that she could make no 
defence. The dignified explanation which he had 
promised himself as he followed Jouve, was debased to 
a scene of jealousy. 

" Yes, your lovers I " he repeated. " I know it all 
now, though I have been stupid enough to doubt wht^ 
I was told!" 

Denise, suffocated and stunned, listened to these 
frightful reproaches. At first she did not understand. 
It was impossible that he should think such evil of her. 
But as his words became fiercer, she turned silently 
toward the door, and at a gesture he made to detain 
her, she said : 

" No sir, I am goings If you believe what you say 
jo£ mev I Jivill not stay anotbar hour in the HoMse*" ogle 

444 THE "bonheur des dames." 

But he stopped in front of her. • 

"Speak!" he cried, "defend yourself at least. Say- 

She stood very erect before him in icy silence. 
He questioned her with an increasing anxiety, and the 
silent dignity of the young girl assumed in his eyes the 
ghastly proportions of the clever calculations of a 
woman of experience. 

"You say he comes from your province, do you? 
Did you ever know him there ? Swear that he is no 
more than a friend to you, if you dare." 

Then as she wrapped herself in her silence, and laid 
her hand on the door to open it and go out, his agopy 
burst forth in words. 

" I love you ! " he cried, " I love you ! Why do you 
take pleasure in torturing me in this way ? You know- 
perfectly well that I worship you, and 3'ou alone ! You 
have been told that I loved other women. I have 
given them all up, I never go out of this building in 
these days. That evening when I saw you trying on 
the mantle, did I not show my feelings toward you 
even in the presence of that lady. Have I not quarreled 
with her for your sake? If you fear that I shall re- 
turn t(» her, you may make yourself easy, she is reveng- 
ing herself, she is assisting one of my former clerks to 
start a rival establishment. Must I fall at your feet to 
touch your heart ? " 

He was ready to do anything, this man who would 
not tolerate the smallest peccadillo in his saleswomen, 
who dismissed them on the caprice of the moment, 
was now obliged to implore one c^g,,^ei|J,a9|l$^ 


leave him. He stood with his back against the door 
ready to forgive her and to be blind if she lied to him. 

He told the truth. He rarely left the Bonheur now. 
He never saw Clara and had not been at the house of 
Madame Desforges, where Bouthemont now reigned 
supreme, while awaiting the opening of his new estab- 
lishment, to which he had given the name of ^^Lea 
Quatre Saisons^'^ and which was already advertised in 
every direction. 

" Shall I kneel at your feet?" he murmured. 

She Jirrested him with a quick gesture and when 
she could speak, for she was herself greatly moved, she 
said : 

*' You are wrong, sir. I swear that all you have 
heard to my discredit is false, utterly false. That poor 
boy is as innocent as myself." . 

And she lifted her clear, innocent eyes with entire 

" I believe yon," he said at last, " and I will not dis- . 
miss your old companion, since you have taken him 
under your protection. But why do you refuse me in 
this way if you love no one?" 

The girl blushed deeply. 

" You do love some one then? " he asked in a tremb- 
ling voice. " Oh I you may tell me, I have no claim 
on your tenderness, you love some one ? " 

She colored still more violently, her heart was on her 
lips and she felt that to tell a falsehood with her lips, 
was impossible while her face spoke the truth. 

" Yes," she said faintly, " I beg of you, sir, to let me 
pass, you distress me." Digitized by C^OOgle 

446 THE "bonheur des dames." 

She was suffering in her turn. Was it not enough 
to be perpetnally on her guard against him and her 
own heart, whose weakness was at times almost im- 
possible for her to control. 

When he spoke to her in this way, when she saw 
him so deeply moved, she wondered how she could 
have refused to listen to him. It was not so much the 
idea of right and wrong that she obeyed in doing so, 
as a certain instinct that made her long for a quiet, 
happy life. She would have given herself to him 
utterly and entirely, heart and soul, if she had not 
shrank from the uncertainties of the morrow. 

Mouret did not understand this. He turfled sadly 
to his desk and began to turn over his papers, saying as 
he did so : "I will not detain you longer. Mademoiselle. 
Of course, too, I cannot keep you in my service if you 
wish to leave us." 

'* But I do not wish to go away," she answered, with 
a smile. "If you believe in me I wish to remain. 
You should believe more in women, sir. I assure you 
that there are some good ones among us." 

The girl's eyes as she spoke were involuntarily lifted 
to the portrait of Madame H^doiiin, that good and 
beautiful woman whose blood shed for the house had 
brought it prosperity. Mouret followed the girl's eyes 
and started, for it seemed to him that he heard his dead 
wife speaking these words, which he recognized as one 
of hfer own phrases. It was «almost like a resurrection ; 
he found again in Denise, the good sense and calm 
'udgment of her whom he had lost, and even her gentle 
oice, so sparing of useless words. Digitized by CjOOgle 


" Tou know that I belong to you," he said in a low 
voice. " Do with me what you please.'* 

She answered gayly: 

" You are right, sir. The advice of a woman, how- 
ever humble she may be, is always useful, if she has a 
little intelligence, I mean, of course. I will make a 
good man of you if you will place yourself in my 

She was jesting but her sweet simplicity was singu- 
larly charming. He smiled faintly, and opened the 
door for her as if she had been a lady. 

The next day Denise received the appointment of 
forewoman. The manager had created in her favor 
an especial Department for costumes for children, and 
Denise was installed in a room next to Madame 
Aurdlie, who ever since her son had been dismissed, 
had trembled to see the power of this young girl 
steadily increasing. Would not she herself be sacri- 
ficed on the first occasion, and Denise be appointed in 
her place? The poor woman had grown very thin 
since the shame that had stained the L*Honime dynasty, 
while her poor husband equally troubled, showed mar- 
vellous energy in the performance of all his duties. 

When therefore, she beheld Denise installed as fore- 
woman in a new Department, she was so delighted, and 
such a heavy load was removed from her breast, that 
she showered the most affectionate attention upon the 
young girl, and made frequent visits to her room, as a 
queen mother visits a young queen. 

Denise was now at the top of the ladder. The pro- 
motion just bestowed upon her had silenced every ill- 



natured tongue. Marguerite who was now "second" 
in the confections^ could not find sufficient words in ' 
which to sing her praises. Clara herself bowed her 
head with respect. But the triumph of Denise was still 
more complete over all these men. Jouve never spoke 

* to her without the most obsequious deference, Huten 
felt that his position was imperilled and Bourdoucle 
realized the uselessness of further struggles. When the 
latter saw her leave the Manager's room with her serene 
face, and knew the next morning that a new Depart- 
ment had been created simply in her favor, he bowed 

. before this woman, as he had hitherto bowed before 
Mouret and his genius. 

Meanwhile Denise was very charming ; she was really 
touched by these marks of consideration which she 
received, and tried to think they were caused by sym- 
pathy in all her trials, and in her final success. She 
therefore welcomed with joy the smallest evidences of 
friendship and came to be sincerely loved by some of 
her companions. She evinced a dislike only for Clara, 
for she had learned that this girl was amusing herself 
•by talking about Colomban's infatuation for herself, 
while the woman he was to have married lay dying. 
There was a great deal of talk in the Bonheur about 
them. But this trouble, real as it was, did not make 
Denise irritable. It was pleasant to see her in her own 
Department among children of all ages. She adored 
children and enjoyed her position ; sometimes there 
were fifty or more of them, turbuleiit and wilful, as the 
3est of children will sometimes be. The mothers lost 
their heads, but she, smiling and conciliatory, brought 


the little people quickly to terms, and when she saw a 
cliild more than usually attractive, she herself fitted 
the dress over the dimpled shoulders, with the tender 
precf\utions of a big sister. Shrill laughs echoed 
through the room, baby voices chattered in baby dia- 
lect, while nurses and mothers scolded and expostulated. 
Sometimes a tall little girl nine or ten years old put on a 
paletot and studied herself seriously before the mirror, 
with eyes shining with a desire to please. On the 
counter were piled cashmere dresses of blue and pink for 
children under five, sailor costumes, others with plaited 
skirts and wide lace collars, coats and jackets, all tiny 
and attractive in their suggestiveness. Denise carried 
in her pocket sugar plums to assuage the grief of some 
little torment who was in despair at not being allowed 
to take possession of some fascinating costume to 
which she had taken a fancy. In short Denise lived 
among these children as if they were' her own, and re- 
gained much of her childish gayety through her associ- 
ation with them. 

She had long friendly conversations with Mouret. 
When she went to the Manager's room to receive 
orders, or make a suggestion, he detained her to talk 
with her a little. She was doing her best to make of 
him what she laughingly called "a good man." In 
her sensible little head — that of a clever Normandy 
woman — a hundred new projects were forming them- 
selves. She had original ideas, such as she had ex- 
pressed to Robineau, and to Mouret himself, the even- 
ing of their walk in the Tuileries. She could not but 
see a hundred things which required amelioration Qg^^ 


the mechanism of the Bonheur. She had been greatlj 
disturbed ever since she entered the establishment, by 
the precarious lot of the employes. Their sudden dis- 
missal grieved her sorely. She thought sudhi lack of 
consideration was injurious not only to tiiem but to 
the House itself. 

She remembered, too, how keenly she had suffered 
in the first days of her service there, and immense 
compassion filled her heart at the sight of each new 
comer, who, with aching feet, weary head, and eyes 
filled with tears, concealed all her troubles under 
her silken robe, and bore the persecution of her com- 
panions with as good a grace as possible. 

This life had an injurious effect on the saleswomen, 
who passed out of sight before they were forty, many 
of them dying from consumption, brought on by 
fatigue and bad air. A few married, and went to keep 
shops in some provincial town. Was it right? was it 
humane? was it just, to use up the life of human 
beings in this wholesale way? And Denise pleaded 
the cause of these minor wheels which kept the great 
machine going, not with sentimental reasons, but with 
arguments drawn from the interest of the employers. 
When one wants a good strong machine, good iron is 
used; if the iron breaks or is broken, the work all 
stops, and it is expensive to set things going again, 
as well as a great and unnecessary expenditure of 

As she talked, she became animated, for in her 
imagination she beheld an ideal bazar, a phalanstery of 
trade, where each would have his Pjo^gg^^t^it^g^t^© 


profits according to his merits, and where there was 
no anxiety for the morrow, because of a just agree- 
ment to whieh both sides would adhere. 

Mouret's spirits rose. He accused her of socialism, 
and embarrassed her bj'^ pointing out the difficulties in 
the way of her project; but she talked on in the gen- 
erous simplicity of her nature, without paying heed to 
what he said. 

He, in the meantime, was fascinated and carried 
away by this fresh young voice — that trembled still 
"Vvith the memory of what she had undergone, while 
pointing out reforms which she wished could be insti- 
tuted in the House. He listened with a laughing air, 
but, nevertheless, the lot of the employes was daily 
ameliorated — vacations were given in the dull season, 
instead of dismissing them, and finally a Mutual Bene- 
fit Society was organized, which assured to the sales- 
men and women resources in illness. This plan was 
the embryo of the vast societies to be formed among 
the working classes in the twentieth century. 

Denise did not content herself with staunching 
wounds like those from which she had herself suffered. 
She had ideas that she whispered to Mouret which, 
carried into execution, charmed his customers. She 
enchanted L'Homme by encouraging a project of 
which he had long dreamed : that of creating a band 
of music, of which all the performers should be chosen 
from the employes of the House. Three months later 
L'Homme had one hundred and twenty musicians 
under his direction. The dream of his whole life was 
reali^d. A great fit^ was giveq in the shop — a con^ 

452 THE ''bokheur des dames." 

cert and a ball. The newspapers were full of it, and 
Bourdoucle was won over by the enorm^ous increase in 
the receipts. Tlien a billiard room for the clerks was 
instituted, with two tables, checkers and cards. There 
was a course of study — English and German, arithme- 
tic, grammar and geography were taught. There was 
a library — ten thousand volumes were placed at the 
disposal of the employes. There was a resident physi- 
cian, baths and barbers. There was no need to go 
from under the roof of the Bonheur des Dames to seek 
anything. The old streets were thrown open to the 
sunlight, in which this new growth of modern enter- 
prise prospered wonderfully. 

A positive enthusiasm began to be felt for Denise, 
and all admitted that the relations between herself and 
Mouret were not those of lovers, and that her influence 
over him resulted from her steadfast refusal. She was 
very popular, for it was understood that all the new 
and pleasant things at the Bonheur des Dames was of 
her suggestion, and every one was glad that the master 
had found at last a strength superior to his own. She 
had come to be profoundly respected, and when she 
passed through the different Departments with her 
graceful head proudly carried, her gentle and yet firm 
manner, the salesmen greeted her with smiles, and 
were proud of her. 

Denise was happy in this sunny atmosphere of 

praise and sympathy. How strange it was ! She saw 

herself as she came there — when she was lost in this 

great machine, feeling like a grain of millet under 

rindstones that were crushing a world — and to-day 


she was the moving spirit of this world, and could 
control the Colossus lying at her feet. She had not 
aimed at this result, she had simply presented herself 
without calculation — endowed only with the invinci- 
ble charm of her sweetness. Her sovereignty some- 
times caused her a sensation of uneasy surprise. Why 
did they all obey her ? She was not pretty, and she 
was well behaved ! Then she smiled, her heart was 
soothed, and she felt that her great love of truth and 
of logic was the secret of her strength. 

One of the greatest comforts of Denise, now in the 
height of her power, was her ability to be useful to 
Pauline, who was far from well, and trembled lest she, 
as had been the case with two other saleswomen, 
should be peremptorily dismissed. The managers did 
not approve of maternit}^ — regarding it as inconve- 
nient and indecent. Marringe was unwillingly per- 
mitted, but children were frowned upon. 

Pauline resolved to conceal her situation as long as 
possible, and resorted to many imprudent measures in 
doing so. 

Bourdoucle, however, had his eyes upon her, and one 
morning led her aside and extorted a confession, then 
submitted the question to the managers, saying that in 
his opinion she had best go into the countiy for a few 
weeks. But Denise had time to iilterfere, and asked if 
the Bonheur was to treat these saleswomen in this 
brutal manner? 

Finally it was decided that all such cases should 
have especial medical attention, and that no dismissals. 
Bhould be nia4e on that account ''^'^'^^' by i^oogle 

454 THE "bonheur des dames 


The next day, when Denise went up to see Pauline, 
who was indisposed, the poor girl kissed her warmly. 

" How good you are ! But for you they would have 
dismissed me." 

Her husband was in the room, and be, too, was 
enthusiastic in his. gratitude. But Pauline sent bim 
away, saying in an affectionate tone of reproof: 

"Ah I you do not know anything. Go, and leave 
us to talk together." 

The infirmary was a long, light room, containing 
twelve beds, but Pauline was the only occupant. The 
bed was near one of the windows opening on the Rue 
Neuve Saint-Augustin. Denise sat down by the side 
of her friend, enjoying the quiet and the faint odbr of 
lavender that came from the linen. 

"It cannot be that you detest him," said Pauline^ 
suddenly. "But why are you so severe with him? 
Pray open your heart to me." 

She held her friend's hand, and Denise, startled 
by this sudden attack, blushed deeply. She felt her 
secret slipping from her, and hiding her face in the 
pillow she murmured : " I adore him ! " 

Pauline was thunderstruck. 

" You adore him I Then why do you not say yes? " 

Denise, with her face still hidden, answered with an 
energetic shake of her head. She could not tell Pau- 
line that she persisted in her "no" precisely because 
she did love him. It would have sounded perfectly 
absurd in the ears of her friend* 

Pauline did not speak- for some mixkutea> and then 
he said: Digitized by C^OOgle 


"Do you intend, then, that he shall marry you?" 

The young girl lifted her head, amazed at this sug- 

" Marry me ! Oh ! no. I swear that such a thought 
never entered my head — and you know that I never 

" And why should you Hot think of marrying him ?" 
answered Pauline, gently. ** The affair must come to 
an end in some way, and I assure yon every one 
thinks you hold yourself so high only that he may 
lead you to the Mayor's oflfice. Good Heavens I 
What a strange woman you are ! " 

And she tried to console Denise, who had once more 
buried her head in the pillow, and was sobbing convul. 
sively. She declared that she would go away, since 
she was credited with so many unworthy manoeuvres. 
Of course, if a man loved a woman, he ought to marry 
her. But she expected nothing of the kind ; she had 
made no such calculation; she only wished to be 
allowed to live quietly alone, with her own joys and 
sorrows. Yes, she would go away. 

At the same moment Mouret was making his usual 
morning examination of the new building, which was 
still hidden behind the vast erection of planks. A 
whole army of decorators was at work there. The 
gronp over the central door had been heavily gilded, 
and tiie pedestals stood ready to receive the statues 
representing the manufacturing cities of France. 
From morning until night little groups gathered- all 
along the Rue du Dix-Decembre^ which had been 
recently opened. They could see nothing of all that^ 

456 THE ''bonhkur des damks." 

was going on behind the planks, but that did not pre- 
vent them from telling the most marvellous tales of 
this building, which, when opened to the public, would 
astonish Paris. And it was in this very place, among 
the artists who were realizing his dream, that Mouret 
came to brood with more bitterness than ever over the 
vanity of his success. He had been driven there by 
the sting of the wound made by Dexiise, which seemed 
this day almost impossible to bear. 

The building was nearly finished, but it now looked 
to him trivial and unmeaning, and it might have cov- 
ered square after square without filling the void in his 
heart, made by the persistent "no" of that child. 

When Mouret returend to his office he threw him- 
self into his chair, and sat for an hour absorbed in 
thought. What did she want? A confused idea of 
marriage entered the head of the young widower for 
the first time. He was miserably unhappy. 

Digitized by 




ONE morning in November, Denise was giving her 
first orders in her Department, when the servant 
from her uncle's came in to say that Mademoiselle 
Genevieve had bad a very bad night, and wished to see 
her cousin at once. The young girl had been daily 
growiilg weaker for some time, and there had been a 
decided change for the worse. 

"Say that I will come at once," answered Denise, 

The blow that had finished Genevieve was the sud- 
den disappearance of Colomban. At first he had fallen 
into the habit of sleeping out, and then one Monday he 
did not return, but wrote Monsieur Baudu a simple 
letter of adieu, written with the careful phraseology 
of a man who meditates suicide. Perhaps in the bot- 
tom of his heart he thought this a good way of getting 
out of a disastrous marriage. The woolen draper's shop- 
promised no future of success, and the occasion was a 
good one, and all those who knew him would look upon 
him as the victim of a fatal passion. 

When Denise entered her uncle's shop, she found 
Madame Baudu there alone. She was seated behind 
the desk, with her fa6e as white as usual. There was 
now no clerk ; the cook dusted off the counters, and ^ 
there was even some talk of dismissing her and engage 


ing the occasional service of a charwoman. The shop 
was damp and chilly; hours elapsed without a cus- 
tomer appearing, and the merchandize that was now 
rarely moved became more and more permeated with 
the dust from the building. 

" What is it ? " asked Denise, hastily, " Is Genevieve 
any worse ? " 

Madame Baudu did not at once reply. Her eyes 
filled with tears. Then she said : 

" I don^t know ; they haven't told me. Ah I it is 
all over, there is no hope ! " And her eyes wandered 
around the dark shop as if she felt that their prosperity 
and her child had departed together. The seventy 
thousand francs produced by the sale of the property 
of Rambouillet had melted away in less than two years 
in the last struggle with the Bonheitr, and was finally 
crushed by the display of such cloths and flannels at 
the great establishment as had never before been seen 
in the quartier, Baudu's debts increased, and he 
finally decided as a last resource, to mortgage the old 
furniture in la Rue de la Michodiere^ which had been 
there ever since the original foundation of the House. 

" Baudu is up stairs," said his wife, in her trembling 
voice. "We take turns in staying with her two hours 
at a time. Some one of course must be in the shop, 

and yet I really do not see why, for ." Her gesture 

finished her sentence. They would have put up their 
shutters but for their old commercial pride, which made 
them unwilling to submit to this last mortification. 

" Then I will go up, dear aunt," said Denise, whose 
heart ached for the wooa she could ngt.^ Egitigj^|^^]|^ 


at the despairing resignattidn wbicli the Very pieces of 
broad doth seemed to exhale. 

" Yes, my child, go up. She has asked to see you 
repeatedly. She has, I believe, something important 
to say." 

But at this moment Baudu appeared. His face was 
yellower than ever aiid his eyes bloodshot. He walked 
as softly as if still in the sick room, and whispered as 
if he could be heard up-stairs. 

"She is asleep!" 

And with trembling limbs he crossed the shop and 
seated himself, wiping his brow and drawing a long 
breath, like a man who has been performing some 
heavy task. A long silence followed, and then he 
said to Denise: 

" You shall see her presently ; when she sleeps we 
always think she is better." 

Another long silence. The father and mother looked 
at each other drearily. Then, in a low" voice, and 
without naming any one, he recapitulated his sorrows; 

"My head is under the knife; I would not have 
believed it. He was just the same as a son to me. If 
any one had said, ' Oh ! they will take him too/ I 
should have laughed my informant to scorn. He was 
a good business man ; he knew what he was about, 
and he had all my ideas, and wasn't in the least like 
the conceited rascals in these modern establishments." 

He shook his head, while his eyes were vaguely wan- 
dering over the damp brick floor that had been trodd'" 
by generations of Customers. 

**• Bo' you^know*,-" he continued in a* l^wcgole 

460 THE "bonheuu dks damks." 

"there are moments when I think myself greatly to 
blame that our poor daughter is so ill up-stairs. I 
ought to have married them at once without yielding 
to my accursed pride, to my obstinacy, which made 
me reluctant to abandon my business when it was not 
prosperous. But she could have had him whom she 
loved, and then youth and energy might have done 
wonders and accomplished the miracle that was beyond 
me. I am an old idiot, and I had no idea that girls fell 
ill for such things. To be sure, the boy was very 
remarkable; he was clever, honest and simple in his 
manners, — in short, he did credit to my bringing up.'* 

He lifted his head, defending his own theories, while 
he defended the clerk who had betrayed him. Denise 
was deeply touched by the humility of her uncle's voice, 
by his eyes, heavy with tears. 

" Uncle ! " she cried, " do not excuse him, I beg of 
you. He has never loved Genevieve ; he would have 
run away long ago, had you shown any desire to hasten 
the marriage. I have spoken to him myself; he knew 
perfectl}*^ well that my poor cousin was suffering on 
his account, and yet you see that did not prevent him 
from leaving. Ask my aunt." 

Without opening her lips, Madame Baudu assented 
with a movement of her head. Then the poor man 
became paler than before, and his tears fairly blinded 
him ; he stammered : 

" It is in his blood ; his father died last year from 

His eyes wandered mechanically from the empty 
counters to the crowded shelves, and then back to his 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


wife, who sat stiffly at the desk, in the vain expectation 
of customers who never came. 

"It is ended," he said; "they have killed our busi- 
ness, and now one of their rascals has killed our child." 

No one spoke again. The noise of the carriages 
rolling past filled the shop with their reverberation. 
Suddenl3% above this dull roar, came a sound of some 
one knocking ; it was Genevidve, who had awakened 
Hud who was tapping with a stick that was left near 
her bed. 

"Let us hurry up," said Baudu, rising with a start. 
" Try to laugh, she must not suspect." 

He rubbed his eyes with his hand to efface the traces 
of tears. As soon as he opened the door above, a 
hollow, faint voice was heard. 

"Oh! I will not be left alone. Oh! do not leave 
me alone. Oh ! I am afraid of being alone." 

When she saw Denise, Genevieve became calmer 
and smiled tenderly at her cousin. 

"You have come then! I have been longing for 
you since yesterday. I thought you too had aban- 
doned me I " 

It was a pitiful scene. The young girl's window 
looked out on a court-yard ; it was a small room filled 
with yellow light. In the beginning the parents had 
given her their own apartmen£ on the street, but the 
sight of the Bonheur des Dames was so distressing to 
them all that they decided to take her back to her own 
room. There she lay, so slender and emaciated undp 
the coverings that it was difficult to believe thr 
living form was there. Her thin arms, burned amj>gle 


the £eirer common in consumption, seemed absolutely 
plump when one looked from them to her poor face 
which was the last of a long race degenerated in the 
shadow and dampness of this old shop. 

Meanwhile Denise with an aching heart stood look- 
ing down upon her cousin ; she did not speak, for she 
was struggling with her tears. Finally she murmured : 

" I came at once, as soon as I knew. Ah ! if I could 
only be of use to you. You sent for me, would 
you like me to remain with you ? " 

Genevieve, with panting breath and hands restlessly 
moving among the folds of the sheet, did not move her 
eyes from her cousin's face. 

^*No thank you, I do not need anything, I only 
wished to kiss you once more." 

Tears slowl}*- made their way from under her heavy 
lashes. Then Denise leaning down quickly kissed her 
on her hollow cheeks, shivering at their scorching heat. 
But the sick girl put her arms around her cousin and 
held her in a desperate embrace; then she looked 
toward her father. 

" Shall I stay ? " repeated Denise. " Is there nothing 
I can do?" 

" No, no—" 

Genevieve's eyes were still riveted on her father, 
who at last understood and went down stairs. 

When his heavy steps ceased, the sick girl snatched 
her cousin's hand and drew her close to her side. 

'" Tell me, is he with that woman ? Yes, I wanted 
to see you, for there was no one to tell me. Are they 
not living together ? " Digitized by (^OOgle 


Denise, in her surprise at this sudden question, was 
obliged to admit the truth, that this at all events was 
the report in the shop. 

' But if you love him so much," continued Denise, 
to give the dying girl some shadow of hope, " he may 
yet return to you. Make haste and get well, he will 
yet marry you." 

Genevieve interrupted her. She had listened with 
her whole soul, and in her eagerness had lifted herself 
to a sitting posture. But she sank back now. 

" No, it is all over now. I say nothing, because poor 
father weeps and because my mother would be ill, but 
I am going away and I know it well ; and if I send for 
you to night it is not because I am afraid of going 
away in the darkness. Father in Heaven ! When I 
think that he is not even happy I " 

When Denise attempted to say that her condition 
was by no means so grave, Genevieve threw back the 
coverings and showed her emaciated form. 

'" Look at me ! " she murmured. " Is there any 

Trembling from head to foot, Denise turned away, as 
if afraid of destroying this frail creature with the very 
breath from her lips. 

Genevieve slowly drew the bedclothes again up 
under her chin. 

The two women looked at each other for a moment, 
not knowing what more to say, then Genevidve spoke : 

" Do not stay, you have your business to attend to. 
Thank you very much. I was tortured with a ci-aving 
to know, and now I am content. If you see him, t^ell'^ 


him I forgive him. Farewell, dear Denise. Kiss me 
once more for the last time." 

The young girl embraced her with tears and protests. 

But GeneviSve shook her head. She smiled faintly, 
and as her cousin turned at last to the door, she said : 

"Stop a moment. Knock with a stick, that papa 
may come up before you go. I am afraid to be alone." 

When Baudu entered this dreary little room in 
which he spent so man}*^ sad hours, she affected an 
air of gayety and called after Denise : 

"Do not come to-morrow, it is useless. But on 
Sunday, I shall expect you to spend the afternoon 
with me." 

The next day at twilight Genevieve died, after four 
hours of agony. The funeral was to take place Saturday. 
The day was dark and the heavens seemed to hang 
lower than usual. 

The Baudu shop was all hung with white, and was 
the only light spot in the street. 

The candles burning within seemed like stars. 
Bouquets of white roses and wreaths covered the 
bier, the long narrow bier of a young girl. It stood 
just outside the shop door so near the gutter that th6 
passing carriages spattered the draperies. 

At nine o'clock in the morning, Denise had gone 
there to remain with her aunt. But just as the funeral 
procession was about to start, Madame Baudu, who had 
no more tears to shed, implored her to follow the body 
and watch over her uncle, whose silence and apathy 
greatly terrified them. 

The young girl found that the streejt; was^o^^d^. 

igi ize y g 


All the small shop-keepers in the vicinity wished to 
show the Baudus sympathy and respect. There was 
too in this same eagerness, a certain manifestation 
against the Bonheur dee DameSy which was most agree- 
able to themselves. They all felt that Mouret was 
accountable for Genevidve's death. All the victims 
of this monster establishment were there assembled, 
Bedor^ and his sister, the furrier, the Vaupouille 
brothers and Desligniires, the man who had formerly 
kept the little toy shop around the corner; even 
Mademoiselle Tatin, and the glover Quinette, who had 
been swept away long since, felt it their duty to come, 
one from Batignolles and the other from near the 
Bastille, where they were making a new start. 

While awaiting the heai'se, which had been delayed 
through some mistake, this crowd, all clothed in black, 
gazed with eyes of hate on the Bonheur^ whose polished 
shining windows, and gay aspect, seemed almost insult- 
ing, opposite the old Baudu shop with its heavy sorrow. 
A few curious faces looked from the windows of the 
BonheuTy but the great machine puffed on careless 
and ignorant of the death and disaster it created in 
its path. 

Denise looked about for her brother Jean. She 
finally saw him standing just in front of the Bonnat 
shop. She joined him there and begged him to keep 
close to his uncle, and to support him if he seemed to 
find any difficulty in walking. For some weeks Jean 
had been very grave, as if troubled by some anxiety. 
He was that day buttoned tightly into a black over- 
coat. He was quite prosperous at this time and made 

466 THE "bonheur des dames." 

his twenty francs per day. He seemed so sad and at 
the same time so dignified that Denise was quite struck 
by it, for she had no idea how much he loved their 

Desirous of avoiding all this useless woe for P^p^, 
Denise had left him with Madame Gras, promising her- 
self, however, that she would go for him that afternoon 
and bring him to l^iss his uncle and aunt. 

The hearse did not come, and Denise stood watching 
the slow burning of the candles, when she started at 
the sound of a voice behind her. It was Bonnat. He 
had beckoned to an old man who sold chestnuts on the 
opposite side of the street, and was now saying to him : 

"Vigouroux, do me a favor, will you ? You see, I 
fasten this button, but if anyone should meddle with it, 
just bid him go about his businsss. But I don't believe 
you will be bothered. There won't be any one here." 

Bonnat then relapsed like the others into a waiting 
attitude. Denise glanced- into his shop. It was a 
pitiful scene of disorder, shabby parasols and umbrellas, 
with a* few wretched looking canes. All the embellish' 
raents he had made, the fresh paint, the mirrors, the* 
gilding on the signs, were all gone, soiled alrefidy. 
The old cracks had reappeared, the old spots of mould 
had made their way through the new decorations, but 
the shop still clung to the side of the Bonheur like a 
shabby excrescence. 

"Ah! the miserable wretches!" sighed Bonnat. 
*' They have killed her and are now doing their best to 
prevent her being carried away ! " 

The hearse had at length arrived, but its wheels 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


had become entangled in those of one of the vans 
belonging to the Bonheur^ whose varnished panels 
glittered as it finally released itself and rolled rapidly on. 

The old merchant looked after it and then glanced 
obliquely at Denise from under his bushy eyebrows. 

The funeral procession slowly formed in the profound 
silence of the street, for the omnibuses and the jiacre% 
had come to a stand. When the hearse had crossed 
the Place Gaillon the crowd . that followed it glanced 
through the large windows of the great shop, where only 
a few of the saleswomen took the trouble to look out. 
Baudu followed the hearse with a heavy dragging 
step. He had refused to take Jean's arm, but the 
youth kept close to him. Then after the crowd, came 
three carriages. Aa the procession passed through 
the Rue Neuve-dei-Petiti-Champi^ Robineau ran out to, 
join it, looking pale and old. 

At Saint-Roch there was a crowd of women waiting 
who had feared .to encounter the crowd in the Baudu, 
house. The manifestation of respect became almost an 
^m&uteh, and when, after the service, the procession 
again started, all the men joined it, although there was; 
& long and tedious march to make from the Rue Saint- 
Honor i to the Montmartre Cemetery. 

Once more it was necessary to pass the Bonheur des^ 
Z>af»e«-r-it seemed as. if the body of the young girl 
was carried around the great shop like the first victim 
that fell under the balls of the soldiers in the Revolu- 
tion. At the door bung red flannels and a display of 
brillimib carpeta, covered with, enormoua roses, an 
(kaaping pepnies. Digitized by (^oogle 


Denise had taken a seat in a carriage. She was so 
worn out with tears and anxieties that she had not 
strength to walk. There was another stoppage in the 
Rue du I}iz'I}ecembre, just in front of the scaffolding 
around the new building, for it greatly impeded the 
movements of the public. And here the young girl 
noticed that old Bonnat had fallen behind, and was 
dragging himself along in the tracks of the very car- 
riage in which she sat. He would never get to the 
cemetery in that way. She stopped the carriage. He, 
after looking at her a moment, accepted her invitation 
and got in. 

"My legs are not what they once were, I must 
admit," he growled, "but it is quite a pity that I must 
join you, for upon my word we like each other none 
too well!'* 

She felt that he was kind and friendly, in spite of 
his words. He scolded her, and declared he never 
respected Baudu half as much as now that he had 
shown that he would never give in. 

The procession was moving slowly on, and leaning 
out she beheld her uncle just behind the hearse, his 
slow, heavy step apparently marking the pace for the 
whole cortege. She sank back into a corner, listened 
to the endless phrases of the old umbrella maker, 
and abandoned herself to the soothing motion of the 

"The police ought to keep the streets clear. For 
eighteen months they have been impassable by reason 
of all this building. I hear a man was killed here the 
other day, but what does that matter J ^ (Before long 


they will build bridges across the streets. There are 
two thousand seven hundred employes in that same 
Bonheur^ and a hundred million francs. Good Lord I 
A hundred million francs 1 " 

Denise had nothing to say to this. The procession 
was now in the Rue de la ChaussSe d^Autin^ where 
the number of carriages rendered their progress very 

Bonnat continued to talk in a vague, meaningless 
way, almost as if he were dreaming aloud. He did 
not yet understand the triumph of the Bonheur des 
Barnes^ but he admitted the defeat of the old manner 
of doing business. 

'* That poor Robineau looks desperate," he muttered, 
" and those other dealers are done up as well as myself. 
Deslignidres will have a shock of apoplexy, Piot 
and Revoud have had the jaundice. We are a nice 
collection of scarecrows to do honor to this dear child ! 
I hear this sort of thing is still going on, and new 
failures may be expected. The scoundrel has new De- 
partments — flowers, perfumery, and perhaps shoes and 
boots, who can say? Grognot, the perfumer on the 
Rue de Chrammont is going to move away, and the 
shoemaker next to him. The same pestilence has 
swept clean the Rue Sainte-Anne^ where Lacassagne 
keeps feathers and flowers, and even Madame Cha- 
deuil, whose hats are so well known, will be done for 
in two years, for when dry goods people undertake to 
sell soaps and galoshes they may as well sell fried 
potatoes. Tut ! Tut ! What a world this is ! " . 

The hearse was crossing the Place de la Triniti^ ana ^ 


from her corner of the old carriage Bhe could Sfee it as 
it turned into the Hue Blanche. 

Behind her uncle, with his hea^ step, toiled the 
crowd, and it seemed to her that all these ruined 
tradesmen were like a flock of sheep led to the BlaiHgh- 
ter house. 

Bonnat still talked on. 

" At all events," he said, " I am holding my oWn ; 
but I have had a terrible sum of money to pay to 
advocates and the like. But at all events they won*t 
go under my shop, for the court has decided that such 
a work cannot come under the head of necessary 
repairs. I hear he is talking of having h salon in the 
basement, kept all the time lighted with gas, that 
silks for evening may be exhibited there. The whole 
world, it seems to me, are on their knees before his 
money — all but myself. I don't intend to worship it, 
not even if 1 go to the wall. He says yes, and I say 
no, and I shall continue to fe^y it, until I am nailed 
up between four planks, like that little girl we are 

When they reached the Boulevard de Clichy^ the 
carriage rolled on faster, and the crowd did the same, 
with the unconscious haste of a funeral procession 
eager to complete their sad duties. 

Bonnat omitted only one thing in his talk — he said 
no word of the abject poverty into which he had 

Denise knew it, however, and finally exclaimed: 

"Dear Monsieur Bonnat, do be good t)nce more; 
let me arrange matters." Digitized by CjOOgle 


He interrupted her with a violent gesture. 

"Hold your tongue!" he exclaimed, "I will not 
permit any interference. You are a good little girl, 
1 know that you are making this man miserable and I 
thank you for it. He thought you and my house were 
both for sale it seems, and he made a great mistake. 
What would you say if I were to advise you to say 
yes? What sort of an opinion would you have of me ? 
Now then, when I say no, don't you meddle." 

The carriage now stopped before the gate of the 
cemetery; he descended with his companion. The 
Baudu tomb was in the first avenue on the left. In 
a few minutes the ceremony was over, Jean led his 
uncle away, who turned to gaze at the yawning hole 
with a dazed sort of air. The procession scattered 
among the tombs ; the faces of these shopkeepers which 
had lost all their color in their unhealthy shops, assumed 
a look of gray misery under this leaden sky. When 
the hearse slowly moved away, they as slowly followed. 

" Poor little girl ! " said Bonnat to Denise, who was 
still near him. " It seems to me that all these wretched 
looking creatures should be buried with her. I under- 
stand though. The old way of business is dying with 
these white roses that we drop on her grave." 

Denise took her uncle and her brother back in the 
carriage ; the day had been to her one of intolerable 
sadness. She began to be very uneasy about Jean, 
whose pallor was excessive, but when she came to 
understand that it was one of his perpetual adventures 
she attempted to silence him by opening her purse ; T^ 
but he shook his head and refused. No, it was a 

472 THE "bonhkur des dames/* 

a very different matter now, she was the niece of a rich 
confectioner and never accepted any gift from him, not 
even a bunch of violets. Then when Denise went to 
see P^p^ at Madame Gras, that lady declared that 
he was too big for her to keep any longer. 

Denise felt that this change would entail great 
trouble and anxiety, for a school must be found and 
perhaps a separation would be necessary. 

She finally took P^p6 to his uncle's that he might 
say a few words of consolation to the old people. 

She found the shop closed, and the uncle and aunt 
together in the little dining-room, where they had for- 
gotten to light the gas, in spite of the sad darkness of a 
winter day. They were now alone in their house 
which seemed slowly crumbling into dust. Uncle 
Baudu, unable to sit still, continued to walk around and 
around the table with the same heavy step with which 
he had followed his daughter to the grave, while Aunt 
Baudu sat in silence, with the white face of one wounded 
unto death, whose life blood is ebbing away, drop by 
drop. They neither of them shed a tear when P^p^ 
flung himself into their arms, and pressed loving kisses 
on their cold cheeks. 

That same evening Mouret had sent for Denise to 
talk to her about a child's garment that he wished to 
introduce, something quite new, a mixture of a Scotch 
suit and a Zouave costume, and with a heart overflow- 
ing with pity and a sense of ill-usage somewhere, she 
had been unable to contain herself, but began to talk 
of Bonnat. When he heard the name of this old 
umbrella man, Mouret lost his temper. "An old 


fool," he said, *' who marred all the satisfaction he 
might have had in his new building, whose miserable 
little hovel disgraced the Bonheur des Barnes^ and 
ruined its entire appearance." The subject had come 
to assume in Mouret's e)^es the most exaggerated pro- 
portions, and now that Denise had undertaken to speak 
in favor of Bonnat, Mouret felt that he could tear 
down the little shop with his own hands. 

*' What," he asked, " was he expected to do ? " Did 
they wish him to submit to this eyesore for the rest of 
his life? He enumerated the offers he had made to 
the old man. Had he not been liberal enough? Never- 
theless he was willing to give any sum that was asked, 
but his patience was now gone. 

Denise listened with downcast eyes, having nothing 
to say that he would accept as reasons. 

"The poor man is so old, and if he should fail, he 
would die of the disgrace," she said. 

Then he answered that he could no longer decide 
upon the question, it was before the council now, 
Bourdoucle would carry it through. 

Denise could of course say no more. 

After a painful silence, Mouret began to talk of the 
Baudus and expressed great sympathy for the loss of 
their daughter. They were excellent people who had 
been extremely unlucky. Then he repeated his argu- 
ments ; they had really brought their misfortunes on 
their own heads by persisting in carrying on their busi- 
ness in an old fashioned way, in that dark, worm-eater 
shop ; surely it was not amazing that they had come 
grief. He had predicted it twenty times or i]^:)g^^ip 

igi ize y g 

474 THE "bonheur des dames/' 

herself might remember that he had begged her to 
warn her uncle that disasters were impending, if he 
persisted in his old fashioned notions. The catas- 
trophe had come, and no one in the world could help 
tliem now. Surely people would not be so unreason- 
fible as to ask that he should ruin himself in order to 
spare the quartier. Besides, were he to close the 
Bonheur another large shop would rise from its ashes, 
for the day had come when the success of his ideas was 
felt on alt sides. Mouret as he talked, became more 
and more enthusiastic, and showed considerable emotion 
in defending himself against the hatred of his involun- 
tary victims, and the clamor from these stagnating 
little shops which he heard arising around him. 

" Let the dead bury the dead ! " he said, and with a 
gesture he swept into a common grave the skeleton 
of the antique method of doing business, whose mildew- 
ed remains were the shame of the sunny streets of new 
Paris. No, he felt no remorse, he was doing simply the 
task that belonged to the age in which he lived. She 
knew this, he added, for she understood something of 
life and had extended ideas. 

Denise listened in silence for some time, and then 
withdrew, with her heart greatly troubled. 

That night Denise did not sleep, except for brief in- 
tervals, and when she closed her eyes, she had troubled 
dreams. It seemed to her that* she was again very little, 
and was crying bitterly at the foot of the old garden 
at Valognes as she watched the sparrows eat the spi- 
ders who had themselves devoured the flies. Was it 
then true that the whole world must grow 

Digitized by ^ 



expense of oth'ers, and tbat this incessant struggle for 
life pushed others into an abyss where they were 
destroyed? Then she beheld again the grave in which 
GeneviSve was laid. She saw her aunt and uncle sit- 
ting alone in their sad dining-room. In the profound 
silence she heard a strange crackling sound ; it was the 
Bonnat shop breaking away as if undermined by rush- 
ing waters. Then came a long silence followed by 
another crash. The Robineaus, the Bedor^s, the Vau- 
pouilles, all crumbled to pieces under the invisible pick- 
axe, with sudden, brief thunder, like a car load of 
stone poured down. 

She awoke with a start and a pang of intense pity. 
What suffering — how many women and children — how 
many old people were reduced to poverty ! She could 
do nothing to aid them, and was, also, fully conscious 
that these changes were necessary for the welfare of 
Paris. When dawn came, she lay with her sad eyes 
fixed on the whitening windows. Yes, every Revolu- 
tion had its martyrs; the word to advance, always 
meant walking over dead bodies. The fear of being 
hard-hearted, of having added to the sorrows of her 
relatives, faded away before these irremediable evils, 
which are the labor-pains of every new generation. 
She ended with a determination to find some way of 
alleviating these sorrows, or at all events, of saving 
her own people the misery of the final crash. 

Mouret now rose before her, with his passionate 
head, his tender eyes. He would never refuse her any- 
thing, she was sure ; he would grant these people every 
relief in his power. She thought of him steadily f^r 

476 THE "bonheur des dames." 

some time, tTying to decide on certain points in his 
<5haracter. She knew his life, and was by no means 
unaware of how large a part women had played in his 
life ; but she did her best to forget these adventures,, 
of which the whole House talked, and determined to 
think only of his wonderful cleverness and genius. Her 
heart was full of tenderness for him, in spite of the 
tortures she inflicted upon him by her disdain. 

That very morning Denise went to Mouret, and 
learned what compensations he would pay to the 
Baudus and to old Bonnat, if they yielded. . Weeks 
elapsed ; she went to see her uncle almost every after- 
noon for a few minutes, with the hope that she would 
cheer him a little. Her aunt made her very uneasy, 
for she sat for hours at a time in a stupor. It seemed 
as if her life were gradually ebbing away. If she was 
questioned in regard to her health, she answered with 
an astonislied air, that she was perfectly well, only 
tired and sleepy. All her acquaintances shook their 
heads as they heard this ; " the poor lady," they said, 
" would not linger long after her daughter." 

One day Denise was leaving the Baudus, when at 
the corner of the Place Gaillon she heard a loud cry. 
The crowd on the sidewalk precipitated themselves 
toward the point whence this cry came. An omnibus, 
one of those that run from the Bastille to Batignolles, 
had run over a man at the corner of the Hue Neuve 
Saint' Augustin, The driver was standing, and en- 
deavoring to hold in his horses that were rearing and 
plunging. The man was swearing frightfully. * 

The omnibus was finally stopped; oigtb^t crowd ' 


gathered around the injured man; a policeman or 
two appeared on the scene. 

The omnibus driver, calling on his passengers to 
testify to the truth of his words, declared that the man 
suddenly appeared among the feet of his horses. 

Then a painter who was at work on a house opposite 
said to the driver : 

" I saw the man ; you were not to blame ; he threw 
himself on the ground ; I am ready to swear to it." 

Other voices now swelled the tumult, and confirmed 
the idea of a suicide. Several ladies left the omnibus, 
and hurried away, feeling that they should never for- 
get the sick horror of that minute when they felt a 
brief shock, and passed over the body. 

Denise approached, eager to be of use, and drawn by 
that active pity wliich induced her to offer assistance, 
if she heard of an injured dog, a horse with a broken 
leg, or of men fallen from a roof ; and lying on the side- 
walk, she saw the poor creature, utterly unconscious. 

" Ah ! it is Monsieur Robineau ! " she cried, in her 
sad amazement. 

The policeman at once interrogated the young girl. 
She gave her name and her address. Thanks to the 
energy of the driver, the omnibus had passed over 
Robineau's legs instead of across his body ; but it was 
feared that they were both broken. Four men carried 
the poor fellow into a druggist's, while the omnibus 
went on. 

" A nice day's work I have made of it ! " muttered 
the driver, as he lifted his long whip. 

Denise followed the men who bore Robineau into "^ 

478 THE "bonheur des dames," 

druggist^s, who said after sending for a phy8i<3ian, that 
as there was no immediate danger, it would be better 
to carry the wounded man to his home, since he lived 
in the vicinity. 

A man went to the station to ask for a litter. Then 
the young girl determined to hurry on and prepare 
Madame Robineau for this terrible blow. But she had 
great difficulty in passing through the crowd that had 
gathered about the door and was momentarily increas* 
ing. Each new comer heard a new account of the 
accident. The last story was that a husband had 
thrown the lover of his wife out of the window, 

Denise saw Madame Robineau standing at the door 
as soon as she turned the corner of the Hue Neuve-des* 
PetitS' Champs^ and as she approached the girl tried to 
smile. She stopped to talk with Madame Robineau a 
few minutes, and wondered how it was possible to 
soften such terrible intelligence. The shop had found 
its Waterloo the day that the Bonheur had reduced 
the price of their silks, and for the last two months 
Robineau had led a most miserable life, simply putting 
off his bankruptcy from day to day. 

" I saw your husband on the Place Q-aillon^'' mur- 
mured Denise, who had at last entered the shop. 

Madame Robineau, who seemed very uneasy and could 
not keep her eyes from the street, answered eagerly : 

"Ah! yes, a few moments ago» I suppose? I l^ave 
been watching for him. He ought to have come in 
long since. Monsieur Gaujean came, and they went 

*• together." 

« WAS still very pretty, but she^ iQokQdi ^iift^s ^e 


and harassed. " Why," she often asked, " could they 
not live quietly and comfortably in one room with a 
orust of bread ? What was the use of all this worry ? " 

"My dear child," she said with her fain,t sad snjile, 
" we need not conceal anything from you. My poor 
dear is very miserable, he does not sleep, and this very 
day Gaujean has been tormenting him by talking of 
notes that are due. I was beginning to feel very 

And she was going back to the door, when Denise 
stopped her. The young girl had heard the approach 
of the crowd and her imagination depicted the litter 
and the curious people. 

Her throat felt parched, she could find no words of 
consolation, and yet it was necessary that she should 

"Do not be uneasy," she stammered, "there is no 
immediate danger. Yes, I saw Monsieur Robineau, 
and an accident has happened to him. He is being 
brought home, but you must not be uneasy." 

The young wife listened with parched lips and sus- 
pended breath, without fully comprehending the words 
she heard. The crowd was already at her door. The 
men had placed the litter on the sidewalk to open both 
doors of the shop. 

"It was an accident," repeated Denise, resolved to 
conceal the attempt at suicidct " He was crossing the 
street and slipping, fell under the wheels of an omi|ibus. 
Oh I only the feet. A physician has been sent for, but 
you must not be unea3y." 

Madame Robineau tremble^ from head to. fqotn slM=e 



uttered two or three inarticulate exclamations, and 
then running to the litter pulled aside 'the curtains. 
The men were waiting for the physician to come, for 
no one dared move Robineau until his arrival. He had 
recovered consciousness and his suflFerings were ter 
rible. When he saw his wife big tears ran slowly down 
his cheeks. She kissed him tenderly and wept bitterly 
as she looked at him. In the street the crowd con- 
tinued to increase, with faces as eager as if at the 

The litter was now withiu the shop and in order to 
escape all these curious eyes, and also considering it 
inexpedient under the circumstances to leave the shop 
open, Denise determined to lower the metallic curtain. 
She turned the screw with her own hand and the cur- 
tain fell as on the d^noument of a tragedy at the 
theatre, and when she returned to the shop and closed 
the small door after her, she found Madame Robineau 
kneeling by her husband's side in the faint light that 
came from the two star-like apertures cut in the cur- 
tain. The ruined shop seemed to be fading away. 
Madame Robineau said over and over again : 
" Oh ! my beloved ! my beloved ! my beloved ! " 
She had no other words than these, and he lay 
choked with physical and mental agony at the sight of 
her woe. 

"Forgive me," he moaned, "I have been mad. 
When the lawyer told me before Gaujean that the an- 
nouncement of my bankruptcy would be in to-morrow's 
papers, it seemed to me as if the very wall were on fire. 
I do not know just what I did. As I came down the 


Hue dd la Michodiere and saw the Bonheur it seemed 
to me that the great building was laughing at me, and 
then when the omnibus came around the corner, I 
thought of L'Homme and his arm and I threw myself 
under the wheels." 

Madame Robineau slipped down upon the floor. 
" Good God ! he wished to die ! " she cried. 

She caught the hand of Denise, whose tears were 
pouring down her cheeks. 

The wounded man had fainted again. Why did not 
the doctor come ? Two men were again sent for him, 
and the concierge also started in search. 

" Don't be uneasy ! " said Denise mechanically, now 
sobbing also. 

Then Madame Robineau, sitting on the floor with her 
head leaning against the litter on which lay her hus- 
band, opened her heart to her friend. 

" It was on my account that he wished to die. He 
said to me over and again: 'I have stolen your 
money, for I had none of my own.' In the night he 
dreamed of those sixtj^ thousand francs, and waking 
with a start he would say, that none but a fool specu- 
lated with money that was not his own. You know he 
was always nervous and excitable, and finally he began 
to talk about seeing me begging my bread in the 
street; he said he would kill me, for he loved me so 
tenderly, and wished to see me rich and happy." 

Turning her head she saw that her husband's eyes 
were again open and fixed on her, and she went on in 
her piteous tones : 

"Ohl my beloved, why have you dong.g.|hjgiy(tijQt)Qle 
30 ^ 

4S2 THE "bonheur des dames." 

Did you think me so mean and so cruel ? What does 
it matter if we are ruined, so that I have you — ^so that 
we are together? Let them take everything, and we 
will go away somewhere where you shall never hear of 
them again ! You shall work when you are well, and 
so will I." 

Her face was bowed low over her husband. There 
was a long silence in this dim shop. The din of the 
street came to them half smothered. 

Finally Denise, who was watching at the little door, 
came back to say that the doctor was coming. 

He was. a young man, with quick keen eyes, who 
appeared with the concierge. He made an examination 
of the wounds and found that only one ankle was 
broken. It was a simple fracture, and there seemed 
to be no complication to dread. 

At this moment Gaujean appeared; he came to say 
that he had played his last card and the failure must 
be announced the next day. 

"What has happened?" he asked in amazement. 

Denise told him in a few words. Then Robiiieau 
said faintly: 

'* I don't want to reproach you, but all this is a little 
your fault." 

" Ah ! my dear fellow," answered Gaujean, " we 
should not have tried to play such a game. We were 
not strong enough." 

As Robineau was carried to his chamber on the litter 
he had strength to say: 

" No, we were not strong enough, I know, but we 
should have been wiser. I can see how men old and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


obstinate like Bonnat and Baudu might resist, but we 
who were young, should have accepted the new order of 
things. The eud of the world seems near, Gaujean ! " 

Madame Robineau embraced Denise. She was 
almost joj'ous at being at last released from all busi- 
ness annoyances. And as Gaujean left the shop with 
the young girl he confessed to her that Robineau was 
right; it had been a great piece of folly to struggle 
against the Bonheur des Dames. He himself was 
utterly ruined; he had made a secret attempt to obtain 
assistance from Huten, but had received little en- 
couragement, and now, knowing the power of Denise, 
was trying to interest her. 

"Itisa bad thing for the manufacturers," he said. 
"They will all laugh at me and tell me that I am 
ruined in fighting for others. I remember your saying 
some time ago that manufacturers must keep ahead of 
progress by a better organization and new methods." 

Denise smiled as she replied : " You must go and 
say that to Monsieur Mouret. Your visit will give 
him great pleasure. And he will bear you no malice if 
you offer him merely a profit of a centime on a yard ! " 

It was in January that Madame Baudu died. It was 
on a bright sunny afternoon. For a fortnight she had 
been unable to go down to the shop, which was left in 
charge of a woman who was hired by the day. 

The poor lady sat up in her bed supported by pil- 
lows. Her eyes alone were living in her pale face, 
and these eyes she kept riveted on the Bonheur dea 
J>ame8, which she could see through the inner curtaiur 
of hex wipdows. 

Digitized by CjOOQIC 

484 THE "bonhkur des dames." 

Baud 11, troubled by the fixity of her gaze, wanted 
sometimes to draw the heavy curtains. But with an 
entreating gesture she stopped him. The monster had 
taken everything — her House and her daughter — and 
she was herself now following; her life had ebbed 
with the prosperity of the shop. Wlien she was d3'ing 
she employed her remaining strength in begging her 
husband to open the windows of her room. The 
weather was very mild, the sunlight lay full on the 
Bonheur^ while the Baudus' shop was shivering in the 
shade. Madame Baudu lay with eyes fixed on this 
triumphant vision, and on the shining windows, behind 
which millions were made. Slowly the light faded in 
these sad eyes, and when they were extinguished in 
death they yet seemed to be gazing at the Bonheur des 

Once^ again all the petty tradespeople in the quar- 
tier appeared at the funeral, the Vaupouille Broth- 
ers pale with the superhuman efforts they had made 
to pay their December notes, and troubled by the con- 
sciousness that though successful then, they could 
never do the like again. Bedor^ and his sister had 
dragged themselves from sick beds to pay their respects 
to the Baudus. DesligniSres had had a fit of apoplexy. 
Piot and RevouS dragged themselves along with 
hardly strength to move. And no one ventured to 
ask for those who were absent, — Quinette, and 
Mademoiselle Tatin, as well as many others, Robineau 
among them, who lay on his bed with his broken leg. 

The new tradespeople were watched with interest, 
the perfumer, Grognot, the milliner, Madame Chadeuil, 

Digitized by CjOOQIC 


and Lacassagne, the florist, and Naud, the shoemaker. 
Every one wondered how long they could stand it. 

Behind the bier Baudu walked with the same weary 
step as at his daughter's funeral, while in the first car- 
riage Bounat's bright eyes and white, bushy brows 
could be seen. 

Denise was very sad. For a fortnight she had had 
incessant anxiety and fatigue. She had been looking 
for a school for P6p6, and Jean's infatuation for the 
confectioner's niece had reached such a point that he 
had implored his sister to ask her hand in marriage. 
Then came the death of her aunt. These repeated 
catastrophes had entirely upset the young girl. She 
had another conversation with Mouret, one morning, 
when she heard Bonnat was driven from his home, and 
that Baudu was about to close his shop. 

After this interview she went out with the hope of 
carrying some comfort to these two poor creatures. 

She found Bonnat standing on the sidewalk in 
front of his house, from which he had been expelled 
the previous evening in consequence of an adroit 
manoeuvre of the lawyer. 

Mouret had bought up the notes of the umbrella 
dealer, and made his bankruptcy a matter of course. 
Then he bought the lease for five hundred francs, at 
the sale ordered by the syndic, so that the obstinate 
old man was obliged to allow the property, for which 
he had been offered a hundred thousand, to go for 
five hundred francs. 

The architect, who came with his workmen, was . 
compelled to ask the police to put Bonnat out. The^ 


goods were sold, the rooms emptj, and jet the old man- 
sat in the corner where his bed had been, and no ona 
cared to drive him away out of the last lingering pity 
in their hearts. The workmen began to pull the slates 
off tl)e roof, the plastering fell, and yet he sat there 
with the daylight coming in over his head. But when 
the police entered he departed. The next morning, 
however, he took up his stand on the opposite side of 
the street, after spending the night in. a boarding-house 

" Monsieur Bonnat," said Denise gently. 

He did not hear her ; his flaming eyes were fixed on 
the workmen who, with pickaxes, were demolishing 
the front of the old house where he had lived. The 
interior was now visible, — the miserable little rooms 
and the dark stairs, where Heaven's light had not 
penetrated for two hundred years. 

"Ah! is that you?" he asked, finally. "Look at 
the robbers." 

She did not dare speak. She was deeply moved by 
the pitiful aspect of the old dwelling, and could not> 
take her eyes from the mouldy stones that were fall^. 
ing. She could see the room she had occupied, and 
even the word "Ernestine," written with the flame of 
a candle in black and wavering letters; the recollec- 
tion of the days of poverty and hunger she had spent 
there made her very pitiful toward the sorrows of 

The workmen suddenly relinquished their plan of 
attack, and began to deal terrific blows at the base. 
Tba houaQ totteced* 

Digitized by 



"If it would but fall and crush them all ! " muttered 
Bonnat, in a savage voice. 

A loud cracking sound was heard, the frightened 
workmen made their escape as quickly as possible. 
The walls had slowly spread, and only a few well 
directed blows were needed fco finish the work of 
destruction, and now there lay on the ground simply a 
pile of rubbish. 

" Good God ! " cried the old man, as if the shock 
had torn out his entrails. 

He stood with open mouth ; he had never supposed 
the end would come so quickly. He looked at the 
Bonheur des Barnes^ now freed from the excrescence 
that dishonored it. It was the crushed fly, the last 
triumph over intolerable obstinacy. 

A small crowd had gathered to watch the pulling 
down of this old house, expecting that some one would 
be killed in the process. 

''Monsieur Bonnat," repeated Denise, leading him 
aside, "you know that you are not to be forgotten. 
Your needs will be provided for." 

He drew himself up haughtily. 

'' I have no needs. You can say as much to those 
who have sent you. Tell them that Bonnat can work 
still, and that he will find work where he chooses. 
Upon my word, this is too much! The idea of being 
charitable to people, after robbing them in this way!" 

She entreated him. 

" I implore you, accept their kindness, do it for 

my sake." Digitized by C^OOgle 

But he shook his gray mane» 


"No, no, you need say no more. Live and be happy, 
you are young, but do not try to prevent the old from 
thinking as they please." 

He gazed once more at the piles of rubbish and then 
he walked away slowly and with difl&eulty. Denise 
watched him until he turned the corner of the Place 
Q-aillon^ and vanished. 

The young girl did not move for a few minutes; 
then she entered her uncle's shop where she found him 
alone. The charwoman did not come except at night 
and in the morning to do a little cooking and help put 
up and take down the shutters, and Baudu spent hours 
alone in this place where no human being came to disturb 
him, and where if by some accident a customer wandered 
in, he could not find the goods for which she asked. 

And then, in the silence and obscurity, he walked up 
and down with the same dragging, heavy step which 
his friends had first noticed the day of his daughter's 
funeral. It seemed as if he could not sit still, and 
walked in this way to lull his grief to sleep. 

"Are you better, uncle?" asked Denise. 

He stopped only for a minute and then resumed his 
steady march. 

" Oh I I am well, quite well. Thank you." 

She tried to say something consolatory but could 
find no words. 

" You Jieard the noise ? The house is down." 

" Ah ! " he answered, with an air of astonishment, 
"that was the sound I heard, I felt the ground tremble 
too. When I saw the workmen on the roof this 
morning, I closed my door." Digitized by C^OOgle 


He made a little weary gesture as if to imply that 
these things interested him no longer. Each time 
that he reached the desk in his promenade he looked 
at the empty bench, the bench that was worn and 
shabby, where his wife had sat for so many years and 
where his child had grown up. 

And when he arrived at the other end of the shop, 
he looked at the shelves where the last pieces of woolens 
were slowly rotting away. 

His business had vanished, those he loved were gone 
and he alone was left, with a broken heart and wounded 
pride. He lifted his eyes to the black ceiling, he lis- 
tened to the silence which came out of the darkness of 
the little dining-room, the room he had loved in spite 
of the close smell that always hung about it. There 
was not a sound in the whole house except his own 
footsteps, which sounded as hollow as though he were 
walking on a tomb. 

Then Benise approached the subject that had brought 
her there. 

"Uncle," she said, *' you cannot stay here, you must 
come to some determination." 

He answered without stopping : 
, " Yes, I know that, but what would you have me do? 
I have tried to sell, but no one wants to buy; some 
morning I shall close the shop, and go away." 

She knew that bankruptcy was not imminent. The 
creditors preferred to wait, they were unwilling 
to do anything in the presence of such desolation. 
When the creditors were paid, Uncle §(^i^S^b^(Jt9®Wle 
be peuniless. 


" But what do you wish to do? " she asked, unwilliHg 
to leave the subject which served as an introduction to 
the offer she had come but was afraid to make. 

" I do not know," he replied. 

He had now changed the direction of his walk, he 
was going from the dining-room to the windows of the 
shop, and each time he reached these windows he 
glanced at the display of shabby goods to the triumph- 
ant fa9ade of the Bonheur des Dames^ but he had lost 
all strength for anger. 

" Listen, uncle," said Denise, in an embarrassed sort 
of way, " there might be a place for you — " she stopped, 
gasped for breath and then began again. "Yes, I am 
authorized to offer you a place as inspector." 

" Where ? " asked Baudu. 

" Opposite of course, with us, a salary of six thousand 
francs, and little do do." 

He stood still in front of her, but instead of falling 
into a rage as she had feared, he became \efy pale. 
He seemed to have become resigned to everything and 

'• Opposite, opposite," he murmured. ^ " Do you wish 
me to enter the establishment opposite ? " 

Denise was profoundly moved by his manner. She 
recalled the long contest between the two siiops, she 
saw again the funerals of Madame Baudu and Gene- 
vieve, she realized that her uncle's business had been 
crushed by the Bonheur. And the idea of her uncle 
entering the establishment opposite and walking about 
there in a white cravat caused her heart to swell with 
pity and revolt. Digitized by CjOOgle 


•** Think a moment, Denise, my child. Would it be 
possible ? " he said simply, folding his trembling hands 
as he spoke. 

" No, no, dear uncle," she cried passionately. " It 
would be wrong. Forgive me, I beg of you." 

He resumed his march, his footsteps again echoed 
through the sepulchral void of the house. And when 
she left him he did not cease this steady motion. 

Denise passed another wretched night; she could 
not sleep. She had taken the measure of her power 
and found that she could do little even for her own peo- 
ple. She must continue to assist at the perpetual work 
of life which demands death as its end. She ceased to 
rebel, and accepted this great law of perpetual strug- 
gle, but her woman's heart ached sorely at the thought 
and sight of suffering humanity. Had she not for 
years been a slave to this machine ; had it not ground 
her nearly to dust? Had she not been called upon to 
bear insults and wrongs ? And now she trembled when 
she thought of the logic of events. Why was she, frail 
,as she was, expected to have any control over this mon- 
ster? Mouret had invented all this machinery to crush 
the world; he had covered the quartier with ruins; 
beggared some, killed others, and she loved him even 
for the grandeur of his self-assigned work, and she 
loved all the more in his excess of power, notwithstand- 
ing the tears she shed for the sorrow of the vanquished. 

Digitized by 





THE Rue du Dix-Becemhre^ in all its newness and 
whiteness, lay gay under a February sun. Carri- 
ages were rolling through the flood of light that now 
penetrated the dark shadows of the old Quartier Saint- 
Roch; and between the Rue de la Michodiere and the 
Rue de Choiseul there was almost a mob before the 
great facade of the Bonheur des Dame% which was to 
be thrown open that day. 

This new facade was certainly very imposing with 
its masses of white and gold. In order to keep its dec- 
orations subordinate to the goods displayed, the colors 
were very sombre. A dado of sea green marble, pillars 
of black marble, — their severity relieved by a judicious 
admixture of gold, — every thing else was plate glass 
windows that admitted all the light from the street. 
But as the stairs were mounted the colors became more 
brilliant ; mosaics and a frieze of red and blue flowers 
alternated with marble slabs, on which was inscribed 
the names of different kinds of merchandize. 

On the next floor between long mirrors, were the 
gilded arms of the manufacturing cities of France, 
and medallions of terra cotta on which were repeated 
the rich colors of the red and blue flowers. 

And a curious crowd gathered before the great door 
i^hich was also decorated with a profusioji.^g| ^mosaics '^ 


and surmounted by an allegorical group glittering with 
gold — of a woman beautifully dressed and caressed by 

This Palace was a Temple raised to Fashion, and 
covered the old quartier with its shadow. The scar 
left on its side by the destruction of the Bonnat shop, 
was now so well healed, that it would have been im- 
possible to find it. The four facades filled the four 
streets with their magnificence. 

Baudu's shop was closed and looked like a tomb; 
passing carriages had bespattered it with mud ; hand- - 
bills and placards were pasted upon it, and among these, 
like a flag planted in a conquered country, was an 
immense yellow paper, announcing in letters two feet 
long the great sale at the Bonheur deis Dames. 

It was as if the Colossus, overwhelmed with shame 
and disgust at the black quartier^ had turned its back 
upon it and the mud of its narrow streets, and pre- 
sented its parvenu face to the sunshine and noise of 
new Paris. 

From the early morning the crowd had been increas- 
ing. No shop had ever been so popular, or excited the 
interest of the public in the same degree. The Bonheur 
spent each year nearly six hundred thousand francs in 
advertisements and handbills. They sent out four 
hundred thousand catalogues, and cut up some hun- 
dred thousand francs' worth of stuff into samples. 

To celebrate this opening day, foreign flags were fl}'- 
ing from the roof, and standards painted with the arms 
of the cities of France, were exhibited on each floor. 

The exposition of white goods was something ^?|^?> 

494 THE "bonheujr deb dames." 

ordinaiy, for nothing but white in different tones was 
to be seen. There were yards upon yards of curtains, 
mountains of handkerchiefs, and between delicate mus- 
lins were hung pictures of brides, communicants, or 
ladies in white b;ill dresses, «11 life size and clothed in 
real silk and satins, with faces beaming with smiles. 

The crowd at the Bonheur was greater than it might 
have been because of the recent destruction by fire of 
The Quatre Saisons^ the great shop opened by Bouthe- 
mont, near the Opera, not more than three weeks before. 
He was fully insured, however, and the public shrugged 
their shoulders, saying he had made a good thing of it. 

What a lucky fellow, they said, this Mouret was ! All 
Paris saluted his star, and ran to pay their respects, 
while calculating the probable profits of his year's sales, 
added ^ by the sudden and forced disappearance of 
his rival in smoke. 

Mouret had had a brief season of uneasiness, when 
he found that Madame Desforges had embarked in this 
enterprise, as he f^Jt that he owed his future in some 
degree to her. Nor was he pleased that the dilettante 
financier. Baron Hartmann, should put money in both 

He was also exasperated at a brilliant idea of Bou- 
themont's. This bon vivant had caused his shop to be 
blessed by the Cur6 of the Madeleine, followed by all his 
clergy, a most astonishing ceremony, which however, 
did not prevent the shop from being burned. Mouret, 
ever since he heard of this, had thought of having the 
Archbishop to perform the same ceremony at the 

Digitized by CjOOQIC 


The clock struck three ; this was always the most 
crowded hour of the day ; thousands of customers were 
in the Bonheur^ while outside, long rows of carriages 
stretched from one end to the other of the Rue du Dix- 
Decemhre, Horses champed their bits and pawed 
the ground, as they were held back by their drivers. 
Madame de Boves, accompanied by Blanche, stood 
looking with Madame Guibal, at a display of robes. 

"Look at these linen robes," she said, "for nineteen 
francs, seventy-five centimes. " 

These costumes were arranged in such a way in their 
square boxes, that only the trimmings could be seen, 
and in the corner of each box was an engraving show- 
ing the suit made up and worn by a young person, with 
the air of a princess. 

"They are worth no more!" murmured Madame 
Guibal. "They are flimsy things, as you would find 
out if you took them in your hand." 

These two ladies were now quite intimate. Mon- 
sieur de Boves was confined to the house with an 
attack of gout. Madame de Boves found that if she 
closed her eyes to what was going on it was money in 
her pocket, as her husband, feeling the need of tolerance 
himself, was unusually indulgent. 

"Let us go in," resumed Madame Guibal. "We 
must, of course, see their exposition. Did not ^y our 
son-in-law say he would meet you there ? " 

Madame de Boves did not reply. She was watch- 
ing the carriages as they rolled up and deposited new 

Digitized by 



"Yes," said Blanche in her low voice. "Paul was 
to meet ns about five o'clock in the reading-room." 

They had been married about a month, and Valleg- 
nose after a three weeks' vacation passed at the south, 
had returned to his post. 

The young wife had become singularly like her 

" Ah ! there is Madame Desforges," cried the Coun- 
tess, looking at a coupS. 

"Impossible I" murmured Madame Guibal, "after 
all these stories. She must be crying lier eyes out 
over the fire at the Quatre Saisons.'' 

It was Henrietta nevertheless. She perceived these 
ladies and advanced with an air of gayety, concealing 
her defeat under her easy society air. 

" Yes it is I. I wanted to see for myself. It is 
always better, is it not? Oh! we are excellent 
friends. Monsieur Mouret and I, although at one time 
he was perfectly furious with me when he found that I 
was interested in a rival house. But there is one thing 
that I will never forgive, and that is his making that 
marriage between Joseph and my protegSe^ Mademoi- 
selle de Fontenailles." 

"You don't mean it!" cried Madame de Boves. 
"How horrible!" 

" Yes, my dear, and only to put his heel on us I I 
know him. It is his way of saying that girls in our 
circle are only fit to marry shop boys." 

She was quite animated. The four ladies stood on 
•^he sidewalk unmindful of the pushes they received. 

he crowd, however, imperceptibly swept them on. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

T H K ^' B O X 11 K i; K D K S DA M K S." 497 

and they passed through the door almost without 
knowing it. Some one asked for Madame Marly, and 
one of the ladies replied that poor Monsieur Marly had 
been carried to an insane asylum. He raved all the 
time about jewels and gold and silver. 

"Poor man!" said Madame Guibal, "he always 
looked so shabby. And his wife ? " 

"She is living oft an uncle at present," answered 
Henriette. "A good old man who has taken her to live 
with him. But we shall probably see her here to-day." 
A great surprise awaited these ladies. Before them 
extended the shop — the largest in the world as the 
advertisements stated. The central gallery now ran 
from one end to the other of the whole building, open- 
ing on the Hue du Dix^Decembre and on the Hue 
Neuve-Saint-Augustin ; while on the right and the 
left, stretched the gallery Monsigny, and the gallery 
Mi^hcidiifc, both narrower than the central gallery. 

The interior arrangements had all been changed. 
The silks were in the centre and the gloves at the 
further end. 

There were now fifty different Departments; several 
were new and opened that day, and the staff of the 
House now numbered three thousand and forty-five 

The ladies saw nothing but white goods, piled like 
snow-drifts and glittering like glaciers, or soft and 
creamy like Iambi's wool. 

There were white velvets and white silks, foulards 
and moires. There were white couvre pieds floating^glc 
like banners in a church, long scarfs of guipure^ and 


laces airy as butterflies' wings, or delicate and frail 
like the light mist that floats beneath a summer skj. 

"Wonderful ! Original I " cried these ladies over 
and over again. "Mouret has never done anything 
more extraordinary ; it is an absolute stroke of genius, 
this arrangement of all these difl^erent tones of white." 

The shop was crowded from the lower floor to the 
upper. And among all this whiteness the people looked 
black like skaters on a Polish lake in December. 

The heat was excessive, and the bright colors on 
the ceiling looked like the sunlight shining on Alpine 

" Let us move on," said Madame de Boves. " We 
can't stay here." 

Inspector Jouve had been watohing her ever since 
she entered. Whenever she turned she met him, and 
when these ladies passed on he kept at some little 
distance behind them. 

" Look 1 " cried Madame Guibal, stopping at the first 
cashier's desk, '' that is a good idea. See those violets." 

She spoke of a new caprice of the Bonheur^ an idea 
of Mouret*s which made much talk in the newspapers; 
little bouquets of white violets bought by the thousand 
at Nice, and distributed to every customer. Boys in 
livery stationed near each cashier, under the superin- 
tendency of an inspector, distributed them. And by 
degrees the whole shop was filled with the delicious 
odor of the flowers that each woman bore on her 

" Yes/* murmured Madame Desforges, "it is a very 
good idea." ^'Q' ^^^^ ^y C^OOgle 


But just as these ladies were speaking they heard 
two salesmen laughing about the violets. A tall thin 
fellow expressed his astonishment that the manager 
should do all this merely because he was going to 
marry his forewoman. While another said that no 
one knew positively when the marriage would take 
place, but that was the reason, all the same, that the 
.flowers were bought. 

*' What is that they are saying ? " asked Madame de 
Boves. "Is Monsieur Mouret to be married then?" 

"It is the first I have heard of it," answered Hen- 
riette with an air of indiJfference, "but I felt very sure 
it would end in that way." 

The Countess glanced at her friend. They both now 
understood why Henriette had come to the Bonheur 
des Dames in spite of the rupture. She had undoubt- 
edly yielded to the invincible desire to see and to 

" I will stay with you," said Madame de Guibal to 
Henriette, for her curiosity was on the qui vive. " We 
can meet Madame de Boves in the reading-room." 

" Very good," said that lady. " I have something 
to do on the next floor first. Come Blanche." 

And ;she mounted the stairs, while Inspector Jouve 
who still hovered near her, went on to the next flight 
in order not to attract her attention. 

The two ladies were soon lost hi the crowd. 

At all the counters, in spite of the crowd of cus- 
tomers, the clerks talked of nothing but their employer 
and his love affair. This affair which for months had ^ 
occupied the attention of every one in the Bonheur ^ 


seemed now to have come to a crisis. It was said that 
the young girl had the previous evening given notice 
that she must leave the establishment, in spite of 
Mouret's entreaties, alleging that she required rest. 

There was a good deal of vehement discussion; 
would she go? Would she stay? and many a small 
bet was made, to be paid the following Sunday, while 
others laid a wager of a breakfast on the ultimate 
marriage; others again declared that they were not 
going to bet their money on such follies ; the young 
lady to be sure was strong in her refusal, and she was j 

adored, but Monsieur Mouret on his side was also 
strong in his wealth and love of ease ; he enjoyed the 
freedom of being a widower, and he would not be easy 
to catch. One and all, however, agreed that this little 
saleswoman had managed the whole thing with unex- 
ampled skill, and that she was now playing her last 
card, " marry me, or I leave." 

Denise, in the meantime was thinking little of all 
this. She had made no such calculations as she was 
credited with, and her decision arose entirely from 
the false judgment that had been formed of her acts, 
of which she was constantly hearing. She had not 
been ambitious, shrewd or calculating; and was the 
first to be astonished that her employer could love 

She was disturbed too, to find that this last step of 
leaving the Bonhewr was so misjudged. It was in her 
opinion perfectly natural and she could not see how 
she could do otherwise. She had become excessively 
nervous, and almost ill from the constant gossip which 


she felt to be going on around her, and preferred to go 
away, rather than run any risk. She had suddenly 
conceived the fear that she might yield and then regret 
it to the last day of her life. 

If these were wise tactics she did not know it, and 
asked herself in despair what she should do in order to 
put an end to the idea that she was a husband-hunter. 

The idea^of a marriage irritated her now, and she 
was more than ever determined to say no; in case 
Mouret should carry his folly to extreme lengths, she 
should be the only one to suffer. The idea of the im- 
pending separation brought tears to her eyes, but she 
said to herself over and over again, with her usual 
calm courage, that she would have neither rest nor 
happiness if she should act otherwise. 

When Mouret received her resignatioh, he was silent 
and cold in the effort he made to contain himself. 
Then he answered quietly, that he wished her to 
take a week for reflection before she committed 
such an act of folly. At the end of the week when 
she returned to the subject, and expressed her wish 
to leave after the great opening, he was equally 
quiet. He affected to reason with her; she would 
never find such a position elsewhere as she had with 
him. Had she any situation in view? If so^ he was 
quite ready to offer her any advantage, that she 
hoped to obtain elsewhere. 

And when Denise replied that she had looked for 
no situation because she required a month's rest at 
Valognes, he asked why she could not, at the expif>g(e 
tion of that time, return to the Bonheur^ if it we: 


only the care of her health that caused her to 
leave it. 

She did not reply, for these questions distressed her. 
He at once infeiTed from this silence that she was 
going to a lover, or a husband, for had she not confessed 
to him that she loved some one ? This avowal had 
stung him like an arrow at the time he heard it, and he 
had never for a moment forgotten it. I^ was plain 
that this man was now about to marry her, and this 
would explain her obstinacy. 

When this idea occurred to him, he simply said in an 
icy voice, that of course if she would not give him the 
real reasons for her departure, he would make no 
further effort to detain her. This hard manner, this 
conversation without anger or heat, upset her more 
than the violent scene she had dreaded. 

During the week that Denise remained in the Bonr 
heur after this conversation, Mouret's rigid coldness 
never changed. When he passed through the different 
rooms, and met her, he pretended not to see her. He 
had never seemed more indifferent or more absorbed 
in his business, and it was at this time, that the number 
of bets was increased, although only a few of the most 
courageous ventured to offer the wager of a breakfast 
on the wedding. 

But under all this coldness, so foreign to his nature, 
Mouret concealed a frightful state of indecision and 
suffering. His head throbbed with pain; his eyes 
were bloodshot, and his dreams were terrible. He 
raved at himself, and the powerlessness W^^ftg^Sis 


One idea however, had taken root in his brain. After 
the death of Madame H^douin, he had sworn never to 
marry again. The first impulse to his fortune had been 
given by a woman, and he was determined to increase 
it through women. 

With him as with Bourdoucle, it was a superstition, 
that the manager of a great establishment like the 
Bonheur should have no wife if he desired to retain 
his supremacy over his customers, who were women as 
a rule. 

He resisted the invincible logic of events, preferring 
to die rather than yield. He had occasional spasms of 
anger against Denise, feeling sure that she would be 
the master spirit the day he married her. Then he 
reasoned with himself in regard to this repugnance. 
She was so gentle and sensible, that he could allow 
himself to be led by her without fear. Twenty times 
each day the combat was repeated in his harassed soul. 
He ended by losing his reason in some degree, when he 
remembered that even if he made that last submission 
it might be useless, for she would say no — always no, 
if she loved another. 

The morning of the great opening there was nothing 
decided, and Denise was to leave the next day. 

When Bourdoucle entered Mouret's private room 
as was his usual custom about three o'clock, he found 
him with his elbows on his desk and his hands over 
his eyes, so absorbed in thought that he did not hear 
the door open. Mouret looked up when his frien^' 
touched him on the shoulder with such evident emotioQlc 
that Bourdoucle extended his hand involuntari 


There was a firm and ^noouraging grasp exchapged 
between these two men who had fought so many com- 
mercial battles together. 

For the last month Bourdoucle's position had greatly 
changed. He had yielded to the influence of Denise, 
and even did his best to incline the thoughts of Mou- 
ret to the marriage. He did this unquestionably, in 
order not to be swept off his feet by a force which he 
had come to recognize as superior to his own ; but still 
more because his own ambition was aroused, and hq 
hoped to benefit by the change, and acquire an ascen- 
dency over Mouret, before whom he had so long ben^ 
the knee. 

This was the rule of the house — something in the air 
affected every one in the same way. Each proposed 
to rise by pulling down another in this battle for 
existence. Hitherto Bourdoucle had held himself 
aloof from this sort of thing, but if Mouret was going 
to be silly and childish, and lose all his prestige with 
his fair customers, he himself would reap such advan- 
tage from it as he could. Why should he attempt to 
influence Mouret against this woman? Why did he 
not let him take his way, and when absorbed in the 
joys of his new marriage he, Bourdoucle, would quietly 
walk in and take his place. It was therefore, with 
something like a farewell that he pressed the hand of 
his old friend, saying ; 

" Come ! come ! why don't you marry l^ey, anijl b^Y^ 
done with it?", 

Mouret was ashamed of his di§courageine|it,^iHQ 
rose hastily and snook his head : ^ 

THK "boxhkui^ pes pamjs." 506 

**No ! no I it is too stupid. Come, we must go through 
the shop; we shall hare a magnificent day, I am sure." 

The crowd was immense, and as the two men made 
their way through it, Bour^oucle glanced at his friend 
and associate, from time to time, a little disturbed at 
this manifestation of energy. 

In the Department where Denise was forewoman, 
there was a crowd of young mothers with their chil- 
dren. There, as elsewhere, everything that day was 
white — little coats of white cloth and flannel, dresses 
of cashmere, piqu^, and nansook. In the centre of the 
room although far in advance of the season, was a display 
of costumes for the first Communion. Robes and veils 
of clear white muslin, white satin slippers — everything 
crisp and fresh. 

Madame Bourdelais sat with her three children, lec- 
turing the youngest because he resisted when Denise 
attempted to try on him a little jacket of mousseline 

*' Stand still I Do you not think. Mademoiselle, that 
it is a little tight for him?" And with her practical 
judgment she examined the cut and the sewing. 

"No," she continued, '*it will do very well 5 but it 
is a gi'eat deal of trouble to dress children. Now a 
cloak for this little girl, if you please." 

Denise was obliged that day to act as saleswoman, 
so great was the crowd. She turned to look foi^ the 
cloak when she uttered a little cry of surprise. 

" What I Is it you ? " she exclaimed. 

Her brother Jean with both hands grasping a 1 . 
bundle, stood before her. Digitized by^OOgle 

506 THE "bonhexjr bes dames/' 

He had been married just a week, and on Saturday 
his wife, a pretty brunette, had spent a long time at 
the Bonheur making purchases. The happy pair were 
to accompany Denise to Valognes and enjoy a real 
honeymoon there. 

"Th^r^se has forgotten a quantity of things, and 
wants half of those changed that she bought here 
Saturday, and as she was in great haste, she begged 
me to bring the bundle myself. I will tell you about 
the things — " 

But she interrupted him, on seeing Pdp6. 

"And P^p^, too!" she said. "How about his 

"To tell the truth," said Jean, "I had not the 
courage to send him back yesterday, but he will go 
to-night. The poor child is sad enough at the idea of 
being shut up in Paris, while we are amusing ourselves 
at Valognes." 

Denise smiled in spite of her anxiety. She handed 
Madame Bourdelais over to one of the saleswomen, 
and then led the children, as she continued to call 
them, into a quiet corner. P^p^ at twelve was taller 
than she, a very handsome boy in his collegiate tunic, 
while Jean, square shouldered and also tall, had lost 
none of his feminine beauty; he wore his fair hair long, 
like an artist. She slender, and not much bigger, as 
she herself said, than a sparrow, preserved all her gentle 
authority over them, treating them like children who 
must be watched over and cared for, buttoning up 
Jean's overcoat to make him look a little mor^jtj^i 
and asking Pdpd if he had a clean handkerchief. 


This day she lectured the lad a little. 

"Be reasonable, dear," she said. "Your studies 
must not be interrupted, you know. I will take you 
away in the vacation. Do you want anything ? Per- 
haps yon would like a little money to use while I am 
away ? " 

Then turning to\^ard the other brother, she said : 

" It is your fault. You have made him believe that 
we are going away only to amuse ourselves. Try and 
have more sense." 

She had given the oldest four thousand francs, half 
of her savings, in order that he could marry. The 
child was a heavy bill of expense at college. In short, 
all her money went to them now, as it had always 
done. They were her only reason for living and 
working, and she swore to herself once more, that 
she would never marry. 

"Now then," said Jean, "in the first place there is 
that brown paletot Tii^rdse bouglit — " 

But be stopped short, and Denise turning to see 
what intimidated him, perceived Mouret standing jnst 
behind them all. He had been watching her for some 
time, interested in her motherly air toward the two 
tall young fellows, scolding them, caressing them, and 
turning them round like the babies she had just left. 

Bourdoucle, standing a little apart, lost nothing of 
this scene, although he pretended not to see it. 

"These are your brothers, I believe?" said Mouret, 
after a long silence. 

His voice was as cold, his manner as rigid, as ifTia^ale 
been of late. 


Denise made an effort to remain equally cold and 
tmmoved. Her smile faded away, and she replied: 

^^ Yes, sir. The oldest is married, and his wife sexid^ 
him to me to make some purchases." 

Mouret stood still, looking at them. Finally he 

"The youngest has grown enormously. I remem- 
ber him perfectly. I have never forgotten that even- 
ing in the Tuileries, when I saw him with you." 

And his voice trembled slightly. She turned away 
quickl}', and stooping, feigned to arrange Pdp6's belt. 
The two brothers colored deeply, and smiled at their 
sister's employer. 

" They are very much like you," he said. 

" Oh ! no," she cried. " They are far better looking 
than I ! " 

He, for a moment, seemed to be comparing their 
faces. But his strength was gone. How she loved 
them ! He walked away a few steps — then returning, 
said in her ear : 

"Come to my office after the day is over. I hav» 
something to say to you before you go." 

Then Mouret went away, and continued his inspec-^ 
tion. This appointment he had just made, revived 
all his irritation. Why had he yielded to this sudden 
impulse, when he saw her with her brothers? He 
- asked himself if he were not going mad, since he had 
not strength enough to hold to a determination. 
However, ^he would say nothing but farewell to her. 

Bourdouole, who had again joined him, seemedless 

% ^ n ^ 1 i» 1 Digitized by VjOOSIC^ 

uneasy, but equally watchful. ^ 


Deniee, in the meantime, had returned to Madame 

" Did jou find a cloak ? " she asked. 

"Ye«— just what I wanted — enough for to-day; 
these children will ruin me ! *' 

Finding herself at leisure now, Denise was able to 
listen to Jean's explanations, and then went with him 
to the different counters where alone he would cer- 
tainly have lost his head. First there was the brown 
paletot that Th^r^se, on reflection, wished to c)iange 
for a white one of the same form, cut and size, and 
Denise, taking the package, went with Jean to the 
cloak room, followed by P4p6, 

Here they found garments for spring, in silks and 
woolens, in white and pale tints. Almost all the sales- 
women were new. Glara had disappeared, and of this 
disappearance contradictory tales were told. 

As to Marguerite, she was about going away to take 
the management of the little shop at Grenoble, where 
her cousin was waiting for her. 

Madame Aurdlie, however, was there, with her black 
silk dress as tightly buttoned as usual, and her imperial 
profile looking as if moulded in yellow wax. The mis- 
conduct of her son Albert had seriously impaired her 
finances, otherwise she would have retired to the 
country, but she was harassed by the fear that the $on 
would end by devouring the beloved property of ^ 
RigoUes. Bourdoucle watctied Madame Aur^lie with 
an air of dis^ntent. «* Why does not this woman have 
tact enough to retire ?'' he asked himself. ^^She i 
too old to rule here I" Digitized by (^OOgle 


Her hour had sounded, that was plain enough. 

^Ah! is that you?" asked Madame Aur^lie, when 
she saw Denise. " You wish to change that paletot? 
Of course. Ah! these are your brothers? They are 
men now." 

In spite of her excessive pride the forewoman would 
have gone down on her knees to Denise, to win her 
favor. There had been much talk that day about the 
girl's departure, which made Madame Aur^lie faiily 
ill, for she had relied on the protection of the former 
saleswoman. She dropped her voice : " It is said that 
you are about to leave iis. It can't be possible." 

''It is true," answered the young girl. 

Marguerite was listening. Since the time of her 
marriage had been fixed, she had gone about with a 
most discontented air. She now approached. 

" And you are quite right," she said. " Preserve 
your self-respect at all costs. I will take this oppor- 
tunity to say good-bye to you, my dear." 

Customers now appeared. Madame Aur^lie per- 
emptorily requested her saleswoman to attend to 
them. Then as Denise took up the paletot to make 
the change, the forewoman looked quite shocked, and 
called another assistant. 

This was one of the innovations made by the young 
girl's suggestion to Mouret, for the saleswomen were 
often greatly fatigued by carrying about the purchases 
made by their customers. 

" Accompany this young lady," said the forewoman, 
as she gave her the coat, and then turning to Denise, 
she said: Digitized by (^OOgle 


'*Pray reconsider your deterniiuation. We are all 
very unhappy about it." 

Jean and P6p6, who stood looking with smiling 
faces on this perpetual crowd of women, now followed 
their sister, who now went to the lingerie Department 
in search of six chemises like those Therdse had pur- 
chased the Saturday before. But the crowd made it 
almost impossible to get into this room. 

Madame Bontarel, who had again come up from the 
south, but this time with her husband and Tier daugh- 
ter, had been all day in the shop purchasing a trous- 
seau for thi^ same daughter, who was to be married. 
The father had to be consulted at every step, and little 
or nothing had been accomplished. Fiij^lly the whole 
fjunily stopped at the lingerie counter, and while the 
daughter was absorbed in a profound study of chemises, 
the mother disappeared in quest of corsets. 

Monsieur Bontarel, a great red faced nmn, left his 
daughter to search for his wife, and found that lady in 
a fitting room, outside the door of which he was 
politely asked to take a seat. These fitting-rooms 
were narrow cells, shut in by ground glass — from an 
exaggerated idea of propriety entertained by the mana- 
gers — and no nien, not even husbands, could enter 
them — consequently it was no unusual thing to see a 
number of men impatiently waiting outside. 

When this was exphiined to Monsieur Bontarel, he 
lost his temper entirely, and declared that he wanted 
his wife, where she could go he could go too, and he 
would stand no such nonsense. He seemed to think 
the matter so extraordinary, and gave such broad bint» 


as to what he considered the impropriety, that the 
crowd standing about were convulsed with laughter. 

Then Denise and her brothers appeared. All the 
white garments worn by women were displayed in a 
succession of rooms classified at different counters, long 
corsets and short corsets, corsets of silk, satin and cou- 
tille were displayed on headless forms, and tournures 
and hoops were suspended from above. 

In the next room were dressing sacques, and peignoirs 
of linen and nansook, trimmed with lace, suggesting 
long idle days after nights of tenderness. 

There were white skirts of all lengths, the short ones 
only to the knee, tlie walking skirt and the trained 
skirt with its full balayeuse. 

There were chemises and night-dresses of simple 
percale, of batiste and Irish linen. 

Then came another room where baby linen was 
exhibited, masses of lace and embroidery, christening 
robes and tiny caps, cashmere cloaks and sacques, 
trimmed with soft white swan's down. 

Jean was fascinated by all he saw, but still anx- 
iously hurried his sister on, that his business might be 

Pauline ran to m^t Denise as soon as she saw her. 
And before hearing what was wanted, she began to 
speak in great agitation in regard to the reports which 
were flying about the shop. In her own Department 
she said two of the saleswomen bad nearly come to 
blows in regard to the matter. 

" You are not going away 1 " cried Pauline, alriaost 
vrith tears. ♦* What would become of me in that cas^ '* 


And when Denise said she was going the next day, 
she answered: 

"No, no, you may think so, but I know to the 
contrary. Now that I have a baby I rely on your 
giving me the position of 'second,' Baugh relies 
on it too." 

She smiled with an air of conviction, as she gave 
Jean the six chemises which he had come to purchase ; 
and Jean having said that he wanted handkerchiefs, 
she called an assistant to take the chemises and the 
paletot brought to her counter by one of the women 
in the cloak room. 

The girl who presented herself in reply to the sum- 
mons was Mademoiselle de Fontenailles, who had 
recently married Joseph. 

She had just obtained as an especial favor, this 
position of assistant, which was about the same as that 
af a servant, and wore a large black blouse marked on 
the shoulder with a letter worked in yellow wool, 
**^ Follow Mademoiselle," said Pauline. 
Then turning back to Denise, she whispered : 
*' I am ' second,' am I not? " 

Denise promised laughingly, only to carry out the 
joke, and then she went away with P^p^ and Jean, 
Mademoiselle de Fontenailles following them meekly 
with the bundles. 

In the rez de ehauAsSe they saw Lidnard, who had 
been vainly summoned over and over again to Angus 
by his father. He stood talking with Mignol, who 
never hesitated to enter the Bonheur in the most)g(e 
impudent manner, whenever the whim seized him* 


They were probably talking of Denise, for they started 
when she appeared, and bowed low; evidently they 
were by no means sure of what she would be the 
next day. All the clerka bowed as she passed and 
then the bets were resumed. 

She entered the gallery where the handkerchiefs 
were to be found ; there she saw all sorts of white 
cotton goods, muslins, calicos, percales, nansooks, and 
tlien came the linen in enormous piles, like stone 
cubes. Stout linens, and delicate ones, of all widths 
and qualities, bleached and unbleached. Then came 
table linen and napkins, sheets, towels and aprons. 

Here again, Denise was saluted with profound 
tespect, and Baugh rushed forward with a smile ta 
greet her. 

Then after crossing a room where bedspreads were 
displayed like banners hanging on the wall, they 
reached the counter where the handkerchiefs were 
arranged in the most ingenious style. There were 
high white pyramids and chateaux all built of 
handkerchiefs, of Irish linen, linen cambric, and China 
silk, trimmed with lace or embroidered, an infinite 
Toriety of dainty fabrics. 

"Did you say one dozen?" asked Denise of her 

"Yes, like this in this bundle," and he showed her 
a handkerchief which his wife had sent as a sample. 

Jean and P^p^ had not left their sister, they piessed 
almost as closely to her side as on the day they had 
entered Paris after their journey from Valognes. This 
vast shop filled them with a sensation of vague alarm. 


and they felt that they must put themselves under the 
protection of their little mother once again. Every 
one looked at these young people with pleased interest, 
the two tall good looking young fellows and the grave, 
slender girl. 

But wliUe Denise was looking for a salesman to wait 
on them, there was a rencontre, Mouret and Bour- 
doucle entered the. gallery, and as the former stopped 
short before the young girl without, however, address- 
ing a word to her, Madame Desforges and Madame 
Guibal passed; Henriette repressed the thrill that 
quivered through all her nerves, she looked at Mouret 
and then at Denise. They returned the glance ; this 
was the mute ending, the ordinary finale to the great 
dramas of the heart — a glance exchanged in a jostling 
crowd I Mouret moved on, and Denise disappeared at 
the further end of the room still accompanied by her 
brothers. Henriette, recognizing Mademoiselle de 
Fontenailles in the assistant who followed with the 
yellow cipher on her shoulder and her dull expression- 
less face, turned to Madame Guibal and said in an 
irritated voice : 

^^ Now see what that man has done ! Is it not awful ? 
A Marquise 1 And he forces her to follow about like 
a dog, these creatures he has picked up in the gutter ! " 

She struggled for composure, and then she added in 
an indifferent way ; 

" Come, let us go into the silk room." 

The silk room was as unique in its appearance as 
was the rest of the establishment that day. Pieces of 
velvet were hung between the columns^aud against 



this background, were displayed every tint of white in 
Siciliennes, poults de soie^ foulards and surahs. 

Favier was measuring off some white foulard for the 
^^jolie dame^^ the elegant blonde who was an habitude of 
the House, and whom the salesmen knew only by this 
name, in spite of all the years she had been coming 
there. They knew nothing of her life, her place of 
residence, not even her name. 

The fact was, that no one made an effort to know, 
they were all satisfied to indulge in numerous supposi- 
tions when she made her appearance, but they soon 
forgot her after deciding that she had grown thin, or 
was a trifle stouter, or looked as if she had been up 
late the night before. 

This day she seemed especially gay, and when 
Favier returned from the cashier's desk where he 
had accompanied her, he communicated his reflections 
to Huten. 

" Perhaps she means to marry again — " 

"Is she a widow?" asked Huten. 

"I don't know. Only, you remember she was in 
mourning once when she came here. She may have 
been making money on the Bourse, though." 

Huten was very thoughtful. He had had a some- 
what stormy discussion with the managers, the previous 
evening; he felt that his days at the Bonheur were 
few, and that he would certainly receive his dismissal 
as soon as the present busy season was over. He 
knew, too, that this dismissal was the logical result of 
'.he manoeuvres of those below him, of Favier, who 
ad already received the promise of being made "|wie^ 


." Sl*^ 

mier^^ and Huten, who had learned much wisdom, 
instead of being tempted to slap the face of his old 
comrade, regarded him with a certain admiration and 

'*You know, of course," said Favier, "that she 
remains. Mouret has just been making eyes at her, and 
I am willing to bet another bottle of champagne on it." 

He was speaking of Denise. From one counter to 
the other gossip flew faster and faster. The silk room 
was in a turmoil. 

Huten grumbled " that this creature " — he meant 
Denise — "had ruined him with the managers," and 
gradually lashed himself into a state of fury. But 
suddenly he began to smile; he had seen Madame 
Desforges and Madame Guibal slowly crossing the 
room. He greeted them with smiles. 

" What can I show you, Madame ? " he asked. 
."Nothing, thank you," answered Henriette. "I 
have only come in to look about from meriB curiosity." 

Huten, however, did not give up his point ; when he 
accosted her, it was with a sudden determination and 

He began to talk with Henriette; he said ho had 
had enough of the Bonheur and meant to lea/e it. 
His conscience would not permit him to remaiii and 
witness such performances as were there of daily 

She listened to him with delight, and thinkiiLj she 
was inveigling him from the Bonheur^ she offer^ him 
a position at the head of the silk Department whan^ 
the Quatre Saiiom was again in running order. 


The a£Eair was concluded, though the whispered 
conversation still continued, while Madame Guibal 
looked about. 

" May I offer you one of these bunches of violets?" 
said Huten, in a lower voice, turning to a table where 
were a half-dozen of these little bouquets which he 
had procured from one of the cashiers to dispense 
himself as gifts. 

" By no means," cried Henriette, recoiling. " I do 
not care to look as if I belonged to the l^ridal party ! " 

They understood each other, and separated with a 
mutual glance of comprehension. 

As Madame Desforges turned to look for Madame 
Guibal, she uttered an exclamation on seeing her with 
Madame Marly. This lady had been for two hours in 
the BonheuTy accompanied by her daughter^ Valentine, 
and had been spending money right and left in one of 
her usual spasms of extravagance. She had seen 
everything that was to be «een in the whole establish- 
ment, even the decoration consisting of letters that 
spelled the Bonheur des Dames — ^letters some yards 
long, made of white stockings on a background of 
red stockings. She had become immensely excited 
over the new Departments ; she had visited them all 
in succession, and made one purchase or more in each. 
She had spent an hour in the milliners' room; taking 
a seat on the sofa, she had ordered hat after hat to be 
taken from the wardrobes, and had tried on all those 
that were exhibited on the mushroom-li^e stands. 
Then she went down to the shoe Department, where 
she died of loi^ing for slippers trimmed with swans- 


down, and wMte satin boots with high Louis Quin^ 

*' Oh ! my dear," she stamipaered, " they have tbo 
most marvellous hats. I selected one for j^yself and 
Valentine. And the shoes ! " 

" Yes," interposed the young girl with perfect self- 
possession. " There are boots at twenty franca fifty, 
which are certainly very wonderful." 

"How is Monsieur Marly?" asked Madanid Des- 

- "He is pretty well," answered Madame Marly, 
startled at this abrupt question, which cast a sudden 
gloom over her mad thirst for expenditure. "He is still 
at the asylum. My uncle went to see him this morning." 

She interrupted herself with an expression of admira- 
tion at the spectacle of the new Department of flowers 
and feathers. In the centre in the full blaze of the sun 
and the light coming through the unshaded windows, 
stood an enormous tree covered with white blossomp ; 
turf was at its base, among wrhich were beds of hya- 
cinths, lilies of the valley and marguerites. Abov^ 
were long sprays of ereamy roses, huge white peonies, 
dashed with carmine, white chrysanthemums, staned 
with yellow. 

Above again were mystic white lilies, branohes of 
apple blossoms and of white lilacs, and at the veiy 
top clusters of white ostrich plumes and marabont 
feathers, that looked as if they were the breath of 
these white flowers. 

There were clusters and wreaths of orange .blossoms. 
There were metallic flowers, flittering steel and silv^ 


wheat. Among the delicate foliage, and drinking the 
dew drops, figured by shining glue, there were many 
tinted birds for hats, ruby-throated and emerald 
throated humming birds and purple Tangaras with 
black tails. 

" I bought some of those apple blossoms," said 
Madame Marly. " Are they not exquisite ? And Valen- 
tine, look at that tiny bird, I must have it ! " 

Madame Guibal, who was not interested either in 
the apple blossoms or the birds, said : 

"Well, we will leave you to continue your pur- 
chases. We are going upstairs." 

" No, no, wait for me," said the other. " I am going 
too. The perfumery is up-stairs, and I want to see that." 

This new Department was next to the reading-room. 
Madame Desforges to avoid the stairs spoke of the 
elevator, but tbund that there was such a crowd 
standing at the door that they were obliged to relin- 
quish the idea. 

They ascended the stairs, and at the top they per- 
ceived the odors from the perfumery Department. 
There was an especial soap now introduced by the 
Bonheur. In glass cases were displayed pomades and 
powders, toilet waters and perfumes, while the combs 
and brushes, scissors and pocket-fiasks occupied an 
entire armoire. 

In the centre of the room was a silver fountain, a 
sheperdess standing on a mossy bank, through which 
ran a stream of violet water, dropping with a musical 
sound into a metal basin. A most exquisite scent, 
like fresh flowers, was apparent, and the ladies as they 


passed, stopped and dipped their handkerchiefs into 
this slender stream. 

"Now then," said Madame Marly, when she had 
purchased dentifrices, lotions and cosmetics. "Now 
then, I have done. Shall we find Madame de Boves ? " 

But the ladies lingered again before the Exposition 
of Japanese goods. This Department had grown im- 
mensely since Monret had risked the one little table 
covered with inexpensive trifles. Few of the Depart- 
ments had made such a modest beginning, and now he 
displayed old ivories, old bronzes and old lacquer. He 
made fifteen hundred thousand francs in this Depart- 
ment each year, and sent purchasers to the extreme 
East, where in obedience to his orders temples and 
palaces were ransacked. 

Two new Departments had been opened in Decem- 
ber. A Department for books and another for chil- 
dren's toys, both of which were destined to an immense 

Only four years, and the Japanese room had proved 
an enormous attraction to artistic Paris. 

This time Madame Desforges herself, in spite of the 
bitterness which had induced her to swear that she 
would buy nothing that day, succumbed before an 
ivory carving of exquisite fineness. 

"Send it for me," she said quickly, "to the next 
cashier's desk. Ninety francs, is it not?" 

And seeing Madame Marly and her daughter ab- 
sorbed in a study of porcelains, she said, as she an^ 
Madame Guibal walked away: "You will find us .^ 
the reading-room. I really must sit down awhile^^ 

532 TH£ ^^BONHaeuB dbs dames 


But evto in the reading'^room these ladies were com- 
pelled to stand, for every chair was tjiken around the 
great table covered with newspapers. Stout men were 
comfortably reading, and had not the smallest intention 
of yielding their places. Several women were writing, 
bending low over their paper as if to conceal the 
words with the flowers on their hats. Madame de 
Boves, however, was not to be seen, and Henriette was 
becoming very impatient when she perceived Valleg- 
nose, who was also looking for his mother-in-law. 

He bowed low, and said : 

"I believe they are still hovering over the lace. 
They cannot tear themselves away. I will go and see." 

And gallantly providing the ladies with chairs, be 
went in pursuit of his mother-in-law. 

The crush in the lace room was something terrific. 
The exhibition here was most tempting. The priceless 
exquisite fabrics were calculated to drive a womaa 
crazy. The room looked like a white chapel. Tulles 
and guipures fell from above and formed a white misty 
sky, such as we see sometimes at dawn. Around the 
columns were wreathed Valenciennes and Malines, 
suggesting the frilled skirts of a danseuse. There 
were piles of Spanish blonde lying on the counter, 
Brussels appliqu^ with its large flowers on a fine net. 
Point d' Aiguille and Point de Venise, Point d'Alen9on 
and Brussels laces. 

Madame de Boves, after walking about a long time 
with her daughter, fingering the laces whenever she 
could, finally took a seat in front of Deloche, and ba<ie 
him show her some Point d'Alenjon. At first fte 


brought out imitation, but she wished to see i^he real, 
and was not content with narrow at three hundred 
francs per yard ; she wanted to look at flounces for a 
thousand, handkerchiefs and fans at seven or eight 
hundred. Very soon the counter was covered with a 

In a corner, not far off, stood Inspector Jouve, who 
had never taken his eyes off Madame Boves, notwith- 
standing the indolent lounging air she had adopted. 

"And have. you any berthe$ in Point d'Aiguille?" 
asked the Countess, of Deloche. "Will you find out?" 

The clerk, whose attention she had been absorbing 
for twenty minutes, dared not resist, so much was he 
impressed by her grand air and her matronly beauty. 
Nevertheless he hesitated, for the salesmen were not 
allowed to bring out so much of their precious laces at 
a time, and only the previous week some ten yards of 
Malines had been stolen from him. But he finally 
yielded, and deserted the mass of Point d'Alen^on for 
one moment, to take from a case just behind him the 
berthes which had been asked for. 

"Look mamma," said Blanche, who was turning 
over a box of low-priced Valenciennes, " this would be 
good for pillow covers." 

Madame de Boves did not reply, and the daughter, 
turning her placid face toward the mother, saw her 
with her hands among the laces, and quietly pushing 
,up her sleeve one of the flounces of Point d^Alengon, 
Blanche did not seem in the least surprised, but was 
moving closer to her mother as by an instinctive desif-' 
to conoeal her, when Inqpector Jouve suddenly PS^^ 


peared between them. He stooped over the lady and 
said, in the most polite of tones : 

"Madame, have the goodness to follow me." 

She looked up in surprise. "And why ? *' she asked, 

"Have the goodness to follow me," repeated the 
inspector, in the same low tone. 

She glanced around, with a face drawn by anguish; 
then resigning herself, she calmly rose and accompanied 
him with the dignity and grace of a queen who deigns to 
confide herself to the ministrations of an aide-de-camp. 

Not one single person in the whole crowd had 
noticed this brief scene. 

Deloche, returning to the counter with the lerthes^ 
watched Jouve with open mouth. What! She too! 
That beautiful lady! Was she to be searched? And 
Blanche, with whom no one interfered, followed her 
mother at some little distance, livid and ashamed, 
divided between her sense of duty and determination 
not to desert her mother, and terror lest she should be 
detained with her. She saw her mother enter Bour- 
doucle's private oflBce, and then contented herself with 
keeping very near the door. 

Bourdoucle happened to be within at that very 
moment. It was his duty, usually, to decide on thefts 
like these, committed by persons of good social posi- 
tion. Some time before, Jouve had confided to Bour- 
doucle his doubts in regard to Madame de Boves ; the 
latter, therefore, was not surprised when the inspector 
appeared before him, and in a few brief '^ords made 
him understand what had taken place.'^^&any 


extraordinary things had taken place, that Bourdouclo 
said he was never surprised at anything which a 
woman's passion for dress led her to do. As he was 
perfectly well aware of Mouret's social acquaintance - 
with her, he showed her the greatest courtes}-. 

" Madame, we are ready to excuse these moments of 
weakness," he said. " I beg you, however, to reflect 
where such forgetfulness will lead you. If any other 
person had seen you secrete these laces — " 

She interrupted him indignantly. 

She a thief I For whom did he take her? She was 
the Countess de Boves; her husband was Inspector- 

"I know — I know, Madame," answered Bourdoucle, 
soothingly, "I liave the honor of knowing you. But first 
let me beg you to surrender the lace you have taken." 

She became still more indignant; she would not per- 
mit him to speak. Tears of insulted innocence stood 
in her eyes. 

Any one but himself would have wavered in his con- 
viction, and would have feared that some deplorable 
mistake had been made, for she threatened to address 
herself to the courts to avenge such an insult. 

" Take care, sir, my husband will go to the Minister." 

" You are no more reasonable than the others," cried 
Bourdoucle, out of patience. " You must be searched, 
that is all that can be done." 

Not even then did she waver. 

" Very good," she said, with the most magnificent 
Insurance, " but let me warn you that your House If 
running a great risk." ^'^'^'^^^ ^^ C^OOgle 


Jouve went for two of the saleswomen at the corset 
eounter. When be returned, he told Bourdoucle that 
the lady's daughter was just outside the door. Must 
the come in too? He had not seen her take anything, 
he added. Bourdoucle, who was always cautious and 
judicious, said that it would be better not to allow her 
to enter. A mother should not be made to blush 
before her daughter. 

The two men then withdrew into another room, 
when the saleswomen searched the Countess, and 
even took off her dress. Besides the flounces of Point 
d'Alen^on, twelve metres at a thousand francs each, 
hidden in the large sleeve of her mantle, they found in 
her bosom a handkerchief and a fan and a cravat, all 
amounting to some fourteen thousand francs. 

For a year Madame de Boves had been stealing in 
this way — carried away by an irresistible impulse. 
She forgot all considerations of prudence and imperilled 
her name, her pride, and the high position of her hus- 
band. Now that the latter allowed her to take what 
money she pleased from his desk, she stole with her . 
purse full, from the mere love of stealing. Her 
appetite for luxury had sprung into being under the 
tremendous temptations offered by this great shopv 

"It is a base plot," she cried, when Boui-doucle and 
Jouve entered, "these laces have been secreted upon 
my person. I swear this before God ! " 

She was weeping tears of rage and now sank into a 
chair suffocating in her unfastened dress. 

Bourdoucle sent the women away, and then said in 
his usual calm voice : digitized by CjOOgle 

THE "bonheur des damks." 527 

"We should like Madame to stilBe this unfortunate 
affair out of regard to your family. But in the first' 
place you must sign a letter beginning in these terms: 
* I have stolen lace from the Bonheur des Dames.^ You 
must give the price of the lace and the date of the 
occurrence. Afterwards I will surrender this paper 
when you brTng me two thousand francs for the poor." 

She rose in a new revolt. "Never. I will never 
sign that. I would sooner die." 

"You will not die, Madame. But I wish you to 
understand that I shall send at once for the police." 

Then there was a terrible scene. She fairly abused 
him, and said that it was a base and cowardly act in a 
man to insult a woman in this way. Her Juno-like 
beauty, her majestic form were disfigured by her pas- 
sion. Then she tried a little pathos, and appealed in the 
name of their mothers, talked of kneeling at their feet, 
and as they remained unmoved, she turned to the desk 
suddenly and wrote with a trembling hand. The pen 
spattered ; the words " I have stolen " were scratched 
nearly through the thin paper. She said over and 
over again : "You see, sir, I yield to force." 

Bourdoucle took the paper and placed it in a 
drawer, saying as he did so : 

"You see that it is not alone, for though these ladies 
like yourself talked of dying before they signed the 
paper, they have neglected to claim their billets-doux. 
This, however, is yours when you claim it. You will 
decide for yourself if it is worth two thousand francf 

She had fastened her dress^ she had regained all - 
arrogance, now that she had written this pape^^^S^^ 

528 TnK "bonheur pes dames." 

"I can go now, I presume ?" she added in a curt tone. 

But Bourdoucle was busy with another matter. He 
had decided to dismiss Deloche; he must be very 
stupid, continual thefts were occurring at his counter, 
and his customers were never a&aid of him. 

Madame de Boves repeated her question, and on 
receiving an aflSrmative reply, she gave them a 
murderous look and in a theatrical tone exclaimed 
as she slammed the door: " Scoundrels 1 " 

Meanwhile Blanche was just without. Her igno- 
rance of what was going on, the appearance of the 
two salesmen, Jouve going in and out, all suggested 
summary proceedings. Visions of the police and of a 
prison rose before her. But she turned ghastlj'^ pale 
when suddenly Vallegnose appe*ared before her, her hus- 
band of a month; he questioned her, and was aston- 
ished at the diflBculty he experienced in eliciting au 

"Where is your mother? What is the matter? 
Pray answer me. You frighten me." 

She could not think of any plausible reply. In her 
great distress she answered in a low voice ; 

" Mamma, mamma has stolen — " 

'*WhatI stolen?" At last he understood. His 
wife's pale face and tearful eyes were explained. 

"Lace," she stammered, "lace, hidden in her sleeve." 

"Did you see her then? Were you looking at her?" 
he murmured, frozen with the idea that she was an 

They could say no more, for persons hearing their 
voices were turning their heads. Digitized by C^oogle 


A strange hesitation kept Vallegnose motionless for 
a moment. 

What should he do? He had decided to enter 
Bourdoucle's room, when at that moment he saw 
Mouret in the distance. He ordered his wife to wait 
for him there, and going to his old comrade seized his 
arm and told him in a few short phrases what had 
taken place. 

Mouret at once took him to his private room and 
tranquillized him as to possible consequences. He 
assured him that it was not necessary for him to inter- 
fere and explained how such matters were commonly 
arranged. At the same time he did not appear to be 
much moved by this theft, it was as if he had long 
suspected it. 

But Vallegnose, when relieved of the fear of an 
immediate arrest, could not accept this affair with the 
same beautiful resignation. He had thrown himself 
into a deep chair, and now that he could reason he 
burst into lamentations on his own account. Was it 
possible ? Could it be that he had entered a family of 
thieves? It was a marriage in which he had had little 
heart from the beginning. Mouret recalled his former 
pessimism, and was surprised at the young man 
showing such violent emotion. Had he not heard him 
maintain a hundred times, the nothingness of life, its 
dullness and vacuity ? 

For a few minutes therefore, Mouret amused himself 
by preaching indifference in a tone of amicable pleas- 
antry. But to his great surprise Vallegnose suddenly 
lost his temper ; all his early education^a^n^^ ^lfeR3©^e 

530 THE "bonhkur dks dames." 

ciples inculcated from childhood burst out in accusa- 
tions against his mother-in-law. As soon as the smallest 
thing occurred to bring him in contact with human 
woe and the crimes of humanity at which theoretically 
he sneered so bitterly, his fine composure vanished. 

And now that the honor of his name and race were 
to be dragged through the mill, the world seemed to 
be crumbling to pieces. 

"Come, calm yourself," concluded Mouret, really 
pitying the poor fellow. " I will say no more, since my 
words seem to bring you no consolation at this moment. 
But it strikes me, it would be wise if you should now 
go to Madame de Boves, and give her your arm rather 
than make a scandal. Upon my word, I can't under- 
stand how you, who always affect such phlegm, can be 
now in such a state of despair." 

" But it was to the afflictions of others that I was 
indifferent ! " cried Vallegnose, with laughable nawetS. 

He rose as he spoke, however, and followed the 
advice of his friend. They both walked back to the 
door of Bourdoucle's room, just as Madame de Boves 
came out. She accepted with stateliness the arm of 
her son-in-law, and as Mouret saluted her with an air 
of respectful gallantry, he said : 

" They have made proper apologies I trust, Madame. 
These mistakes are very stupid." 

Blanche had joined them and now walked slowly 
behind them. 

Mouret watched this trio until they disappeared in 
the crowd, and then in a meditative mood turned away 
to cross the shop once more. This scene 

Digitized by 


tarily drawn his attention from the contest going on 
within himself, but now the battle recommenced in his 
fevered spirit. The theft of this unhappy woman, this 
last madness in his customers, in some strange way 
suggested the image of Denise, victorious and haughty 
with her heel on his brow. 

He stopped at the central stair and looked down on 
the great crush of women below. 

The clock was on the point of striking six, it was 
growing dark within and the electric lamps were 
being lighted one by one, their opaque globes looking 
like round moons. 

Presently came a murmur of delight from the crowd 
as the whole floor became one blaze of light, the masses 
of white displayed on all sides seemed to emit light and 
brilliancy, the laces floated like cobwebs in the air, and 
the curtains and coverlids looked like triumphal ban- 
ners, displayed in honor of the wedding of some 

And Mouret continued to gaze down on his kingdom 
of women ; the crowd was beginning to decrease, they 
were going away with their mad thirst for expenditure 
in some degree assuaged. 

Mouret felt that these people belonged to him, that 
he had conquered them and held them at his mercy by 
reason of his incessant exhibition of novelties, by the 
wonderful bargains he offered, and the system he had 
inaugurated of allowing goods to be exchanged. 
• He had conquered even the mothers, and reigned 
over them all with the brutality of a despot, whose 
caprices ruined the happiness of many h0i]ji^^g^y(j|3^j^ 


established a new religion, his bazar had taken the 
place of churches, and many a vapid soul had acquired 
a new object of interest in life. Women came to the 
Bonheur to pass their unoccupied hours, hours which 
many of them had hitherto spent in churches. Had he 
closed his doors a mob would have gathered on the 
sidewalk and clamored for entrance. Their love of 
luxury had increased since the Bonheur^ which for ten 
years had ministered to it, had been opened. 

Madame Marly and her daughter were still wander- 
ing among the furniture, Madame Bourdelais could not 
tear herself from the exhibition of articles manufac- 
tured in Paris ; Madame de Boves, still on the arm of 
Vallegnose and followed by Blanche, stopped at each 
counter with her usual air of haughty pride. He sud- 
denly perceived Madame Desforges standing at the 
glove counter with Madame Guibal. He noticed that 
she was the only woman who did not wear a bunch of 
white violets, but he also saw that in spite of her bit- 
terness and jealousy she had been making purchases 
and he smiled victoriously, as he looked down upon 
the crowd as upon flocks and herds from which he 
drew his fortune. 

With a mechanical step Mouret walked along the 
gallery, so absorbed that he allowed himself to be 
hustled by the crowd. When he raised his head he 
found himself in one of the new rooms on the Rue du 
Dioo-Becemhre^ and there he stopped and looked out 
into the street. The yellow light of the setting sun lay 
full on the white houses opposite, the blue sky was 
paling and a gentle breeze had risen; the electric 

Digitized by CjOC3Q[€ 


lights of the Bonheur looked like stars low down on 
the horizon at the decline of day. 

Stretching toward the Opera House and the Bourse 
stood a long line of carriages, with an occasional gleam 
of light on the harnesses or on their varnished sides. 

Summoned by a servant in the livery of the Bonheur^ 
first one coupS and then another would leave this line 
and drive to the door, to be entered by a fair cus- 
tomer and dash off. This had continued for an hour 
with an incessant shutting of carriage doors, snapping 
of whips and rattle of wheels. The Bonheur wagons 
were standing at the side entrance, receiving the 
innumerable packages, which they were to carry to 
every quarter of Paris. 

Mouret saw all this with vague dreamy eyes, and 
triumphant as he was in the presence of Paris con- 
quered, and his devoted slaves, he yet felt a sense of 
dull depression and realized that there was a strength 
greater than his own ; that his will must bend to the 
,caprice of a child on the very day of his conquest. He 
who had been struggling for months, who had risen 
that same morning swearing to stifle his passion, now 
yielded to it as to that vertigo which is felt sometimes 
on looking down from a great height, and he was happy 
in having come to a decision, happy in doing what he 
believed to be an act of madness. He had come to 
think in this brief moment, that it was the most 
desirable and the only thing to do. 

That evening after the last table, he was in his cabi- 
net as restless as a boy ; he could not stay in any one 
place, he walked from his desk to the door, where he 

534 THE "bonhbur des damks." 

stood listening to the noises in the shop, where thej 
were struggling to restore order among the goods after 
the great sales of the day. 

At each approaching footstep his heart seemed to 
stand still, and finally he held his breath to listen, for 
he heard loud voices growing rapidly louder. 

It was the approach of L'Homme, the cashier, with 
the day's receipts, which were so enormous that he was 
accompanied by two men, carrying the silver and the 
copper. They were bending under the weight of enor- 
mous bags thrown over their shoulders, while be himself 
carried the gold and the paper. 

With much puffing and blowing he had made his 
way through the crowd of clerks who eagerly gathered 
around him with questions. He climbed the stairs 
with difficulty, and as he crossed a bridge and then up 
another flight of winding stairs, his progress was 
greeted from below with enthusiastic cheers. 

Mouret opened the door. L'Homme appeared, fol- 
lowed by the two men who were tottering under the 
burden they bore, and out of breath as the cashier 
was, he yet had strength to cry : 

"One million two hundred and forty-seven francs, 
ninety-five centimes." 

At last the day's receipts had risen to a million, and 
this was the cipher of which Mouret had so long 
dreamed. But he made an angry gesture and said 
impatiently with the air of a man who is disturbed 
by some intruder : 

" A million ? Well, put it down." _ 

L'Homme knew that he liked to sW^^ft his desk 


these bags of money before they were deposited in the 
safe. This million covered the desk, crushed the 
papers and tipped over the ink ; some of the money, the 
gold, silver and copper, rolled upon the floor in a 
steady stream with as pleasant a sound as when it 
came from the hands of the fair customers. 

Just as the cashier was retiring, quite heart-broken . 
at the indifference of Mouret, Bourdoucle appeared, 
gaily exclaiming : 

" We have got it this time I Our longed-for million ! " 

But seeing the feverish preoccupation of Mouret 
he understood that it was useless to say any more. 
His eyes lighted up, and after a brief silence he con- 
tinued : " You have decided, then ? Well, I give my 

Mouret turned hastily, and in a terrible voice, 
which those who knew him recognized as indicating 
great excitement, exclaimed : 

" Come now, my good fellow, you are altogether too 
well pleased. The fact is, you think I am oh my last 
legs. But you are greatly mistaken, you won't push 
me over, yet ! " 

Disconcerted by this rude attack from this man who 
saw through everything and everybody, Bourdoucle 
stammered : 

" What do you mean ? You are jesting of course. 
You know perfectly well that I have always had the 
greatest admiration for you." 

" You need not take the trouble to lie ! " Mouret 
cried more violently than before. 

" Listen to me," he continued. " We were both of e 


US very stupid in thinking that my marriage could in 
any way injure my business. Is not marriage the 
strength and order of. life? Yes, my dear fellow, I 
shall marry her, and I will show you all the door if 
you have a word to say against it. You, especially, 
Bourdoucle, will go to the desk like the rest." 

He dismissed him with a gesture, and Bourdoucle 
realized that he was swept away in this great feminine 

He turned to leave the room, and met Denise face 
to face. He bowed low, feeling utterly bewildered. 

Denise was very pale. She had just seen Deloche, 
who had told her of his dismissal, and when she offered 
to speak in his behalf he shook his head, declaring that 
it was not worth while, for he was the most unlucky 
fellow in the world. What was the good of his trying 
to remain where he would only be a bother to more 
fortunate people? He persisted in his obstinate 
refusal to accept any intervention from her — and 
finally she bade him a friendly adieu with tears in her 
eyes. After he had gone she said to herself that now 
it was her turn. In a few minutes she, too, would 
leave and go far away to shed her tears in solitude. 

" You wished to see me," she said, in her usual calm 
voice, " and anyway I should have come to thank you 
for all your goodness to me." 

She noticed the money bags on the desk, and this 
display annoyed and wounded her. Above was the 
portrait of Madame H^douin, in its gilt frame, look- 
ing down on this scene with the same eternal smile on 
its painted lips. ^^^^^^^^^ by (^OOgle 


"You have resolved, then, to leave us?" asked 
Mouret, whose voice trembled. 

" Yes, sir. I must do so." 

Then he took her hands, and said with impassioned 
tenderness — a tenderness that was all the more vehe- 
ment because of the long coldness he had imposed 
upon himself: 

"And if I were to marry you, Denise, would you 

But she withdrew her hands, and in a tone of 
intense anguish cried: 

"Oh!' Monsieur Mouret, I beg of you to say no 
more. Pray make no further diflBculties for me! I 
cannot, oh ! I cannot ! God is my witness that I am 
going away only to avoid a great misfortune ! " 

She continued to defend herself with broken words. 
Had she not suffered enough from the gossip of the 
people in the House ? Did he wish to look upon her, 
and have all his employes look upon her as an adven- 
turess ? No, she herself would have strength enough 
to prevent him from committing such an act of folly. 
He listened to her in an agony of suspense, and 
repeated passionately : 
. " But I wish it ! I wish it ! " 

"No — it is impossible. And my brothers? I have 
sworn never to marry — I cannot expect you to look 
out for my two boys! " 

"But they will be my brothers, too. Say ye^ 

" No — no — leave me ; you are killing me ! " 

This last obstacle was driving him madJ^.^g^^ 


Even at this price she refused him. tie still heard 
the clamor of his three thousand employes as they 
welcomed his royal fortune. And this idiotic million 
lay before him — insulting him with bitter sarcasm. 
He could have thrown it into the street. 

" Go then I " he cried, in a voice quivering with pain. 
" Go to him whom you love. That is the reason — is it 
not ? You told me, I know ; you warned me — and I 
ought not to have tormented you further." 

She was silenced by the violence of his despair. 
Then all at once, with an uncontrollable impulse, 
she threw herself on his neck, with tears and sobs, 
stammering : 

" Ah ! Monsieur Mouret, it is you whom I love ! " 

A faint shout came up from the lower floor of the 
Bonheur — the last wave of the enthusiasm of the 
crowd. The portrait of Madame H^douin still smiled 
with its painted lips. Mouret was leaning against the 
desk, on which was piled the money received that day, 
but he did not see it. He had not released Denise — 
he pressed her close to his breast, whispering in her 
ear that she might now go and spend a month at 
Valognes, which would close the mouth of all the 
gossips, and that he would, at the expiration of that 
time, if I tjbere and bring her back to Paris as his wife. 


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Miss Leslie's Cook Book, a Complete Manual to Domestic Cookery 

in all its Branches. Paper cover, $1.00, or bound in cloth, $1 50 

The Queen of the Kitchen; or, The Southern Cook Book. Con- 
taining 1007 Old Southern Family Receipts for Cooking,...Cloth, 1 75 

Mrs. Hale's New Cook Book, Cloth, 1 75 

Petersons' New Cook Book, Cloth, 1 7* 

Widdifield's New Cook Book, Cloth, 1 75 

Mrs. Goodfellow's Cookery as it Should Be, Cloth, 1 75 

The National Cook Book. By a Practical Housewife, Cloth, 1 75 

The Young Wife's Cook Book, Cloth, 1 76 

Miss Leslie's New Receipts for Cooking, Cloth, 1 75 

Mrs. Hale's Receipts for the Million, Cloth, 1 75 

The Family Save-All. By author of "National Cook Book," Cloth, 1 75 
Francatelli's Modern Cook Book. With the most approved methods 
of French, English, German, and Italian Cookery. With Silty- 
two Illustrations. One vol., 600 pages, bound in morocco cloth, 5 00 

Kr Above Book! wiU bo lent, postage pud, on receipt of Betail Prlooi 
by T. B. Peterson 4 Brothers, Philadelphia, Par ^^^^ ^i ^ 

Digitized by VjOOQlc 


thmfiltte in nine large duodecimo volumes, bound in morocco cloth. gUt bcdfc, priet 
91.75 each; or 916.76 a Met, each set is put up in a neat box. * 

The Cardinal's Baaghter,.. $1 75 {Miriam's Memoirs, $1 76 

Feme Fleming, 1 75|Monfort Hall, 1 75 

The Household of Bouyerie,..» 1 75 1 Sea and Shore, 1 75 

▲ Double Wedding, 1 75 1 Hester Howard's TempUtlon,... 1 71 

Lady Ernestine ; or. The Absent Lord of Rocheforte, 1 75 


JkmfXth in six large duodecimo volumes, bound in doth, giU back^ price |L75 auh; 
or $10.50 a set, each set is put iqtina neat box. 

Father and Danghter, $1 75 i The Neighbors, $1 75 

The Four Sisters, 1 75 I The Home, 1 75 

Above are each in cloth, or each one is in paper cover, at $1.50 each. 
Life in the Old World. In two volumes, cloth, price, 3 50 


Complete in four large duodecimo volumes, bound in cloth, gitt back, price $1.76 
each ; or $7.00 a set, each set is put up in a neat box. 

Doesticks' Letters, $1 75 I The Elephant Club,.... 1 $1 75 

Plu-Rl-Bus-Tah, 1 75 I Witches of New York, 1 75 

Above are each in cloth, or each one is ic paper cover, at $1.50 each. 


CimpUte in teven large duodecimo volumes, bound in doth, gxU back, prict $1.76 
each ; or $12.26 a set, each set is put t^ in a neat box. 

The Watchman, $1 75 I Diary of an Old Doctor, $1 75 

The Wanderer, 1 75 Sartaroe, 1 75 

The Lawyer's Story, 1 75 'The Three Cousins 1 75 

The Old Patroon; or the Great Van Broek Property, 1 75 

Above are each in cloth, or each one is in paper cover, at $1.50 each. 


CkmpUte in seven large duodecimo volumes, bound in dolh, gilt back, price $1.76 
each; or $12.25 a set, each set is put up in a neat box. 

The Sealed Packet, ....$1 75 I Dream Numbers, $1 75 

Garstang Grange, 1 75 I Beppo, the Conscript, 1 75 

Leonora Casaloni,... 1 75 | Gemma, 1 75 | Marietta, 1 75 

Above are each in cloth, or each one is in paper cover, at $1.50 each. 


Prank Forester's Sporting Scenes and Characters. By Henry William 
Herbert. A New, Revised, and Enlarged Edition, with a Life of the 
Author, a New Introductory Chapter, Frank Forester's Portrait and 
Autograph, with a full length picture of him in his shooting costume, 
and seventeen other illustrations, from original designs by Darley and 
Franlc Forester. Two vols., morocoo cloth, bevelled boards, $4.00. 

* AboYe Booki wiU be sent, potUflr* P&id, on receipt of Retail Friea 
hj T. B. Petersen 4 Brothen, PhUadelphia, Pa. , 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


Tk9 following are cloth editiont of Alexander Dumae* worktt aud they ai-* 

each iatued in large octavo volumes, bound in cloth, price $1.75 eacA. 
The Three Guardsmen ; or. The Three Mousquetaire?. % A. Dumas,! 1 75 
twenty Tears After; or the "Second Serien of Three Guardsmen,",,, 1 75 
Bragelonne; Si»n of Athos ; or •* Third Series of Three Guardsmen" 1 75 
The Iron Mask ; or the " Fourth Series of The Three Guardsmen .*'.„, 1 75^ 
Louise La Vallicre; or the "Fifth Series ami £nd of the Three 

Guardsmen Series," » 1 75 

The Memoirs of a Physician; or, Joseph Biilsamo. Illustrated, I 75 

Queen's Neeklace; »r** Second Series of Memoirs of a Pht/siciat*" 1 75 
Gix Years Later; or the " Third Series of Memoirs of a Phgnician," 1 75 
Countess of Charny ; or '* Fourth Series of Memoirs of a Phynician" 1 75 
Andree De Tavemey ; or *• Fifth Series of Memoirs of a Physician" 1 75 
The Chevalier; or the "Sixth Series and End of the Memoirs of a 

Physician Series," 1 75 

The Adventures of a Marquis, liy Alexander Dumas, 1 75 

The Count of Monte-Cristo. By Alexander Damns, 1 75 

Edmond Dantes. A Sequel to the ** Count of Monte-Crisro,". .*. 1 75 

The Countess of Monte-Cristo. A Companion to "Monte-Cristo,".... 1 75 
The Forty-Five Guardsmen. By Alexander Dumas. Illustrated,... 1 75 
Diana of Meridor, or Lady of Monsorenu. By Alexander Dumas.... 1 75 
The Iron Hand. By Alex. Dumas, author "Count of Monte-Cristo," 1 75 

Camille; or the Fate of a Coquette. (La Dame aux Camelias,) 1 75 

The Conioript. A novel of the Days of Napoleon ihe First, ., 1 7.'> 

Love and Liberty. A novel of the French Revolution of 1792-1793, I 75 


The following are cloth editions of G. W. M. Reynolds* works, and thfy are 

each issued in large octavo volumes, bound in cloth, price $1.75 each. 

The Mysteries of the Court of London. By George AV. M. Reynolds, 1 75 

Rote Foster; or the " Second Series of Mynteries of Court of Luudou" 1 75 

Caroline of Brunswick ; or the " Third Series of the Court of London," 1 75 

Venetia Trelawney; or " End of the Mysteries of the Court of London" 1 75 

Lord Siixondale; or the Court of Queen Victoria. By Reynolds, 1 75 

Count Christoval. Sequel to '' Lord Saxondale." By Reynold?, 1 76 

Rota Lambert; or Memoirs of an Unfortunate Woman. Bv Reynolds, 1 75 

Mary Price; or the Adventures of a Servant Maid. By Rttymdd.s... 1 75 

£u;*tace Quentin. Sequel to " Mary Price." By G. AV. M. Reynolds, 1 75 

Joseph Wiluiot; or the Memoirs of a M;in Servant. By Reynolds,... 1 75 

The Banker's Daughter. Sequel to "Joseph Wilmot." By Rfynolds, 1 75 

Kenneth. A Romance of the Highlands. By G. W. M. R^wnolds, 1 75 

Rye-House Plot; or the Conspirator's Daughter. By* Reynolds 1 71 

Necromancer; or the Times of Henry the Eighth. By Reynolds, ... 1 7& 

The Mysteries of the Court of Naples. Bv G. W. M. Reynolds 1 76 

Wallace; the Hero of Sc.tlaind. By G. AV. M. Reynolds, 1 75 

The Gipsy Chief. By George W. M. Reynolds, 1 7P 

Hubert Bruce; the Hero King of Scotland. By G. W. M. Reynolds, 1 7 

K^ AbOTe Books wUl be sdnt, postage paid, on reoeipt of Retail M ^ 
by T. B. Peterson 4 Brothers, Philadelphia, Pa^ 



TJU foUowing hooka ara taek imued in ona large octavo voluwUf hound im 
clotkf at $2.00 each, or tack one it done up in paper cover , at $1.60 tack. 

The Wandering Jew. By Eugene Sue. Full of Illnstrations, $2 00 

Mysteries of Pant ; and it« Sequel, Oerolstein. By Eugene Sue,.... 2 00 

Martin, the Foundling. By Eugene Sue. Full of Illustrations, 2 00 

Tea Thousand a Tear. By Samuel Warren. With Illustrations,.... 2 00 

Washington and His Generals. By George Lippard,.. 2 00 

The Quaker City; or, the Monks of Monk Hall. By George Lippard, 2 00 

Blanche of Brandy wine. By George Lippard, 2 00 

Paul Ardenheim ; the Monk of Wissahickon. By George Lippard,. 2 00 
The Mysteries of Florence. By Geo. Lippard, author *' Quaker City," 2 00 

The Pictorial Tower of London. By W. Harrison Ainswurtb, 2 60 

STk* foUowing art eadk iitued in one large octavo volume, bound in eUUh^priee $2XW 
eaeh^ oracheap edition is issued inpaper cover^ at 76 centseaeh, 

Charles (VMalley, the Irish Dragoon. By Charles Lever, Cloth, $2 00 

Harry Lorrequer. With his Confessions. By Charles Leyer,...Cloth, 2 00 

Jack Hinton, the Guardsman. By Charles Leyer, Cloth, 2 00 

Davenport Dunn. A Man of Our Day. By Charles Lever,.. .Cloth, 2 00 

Tom Burke of Ours. By Charles Lever, Cloth, 2 00 

The Knight of Gwynne. By Charles Lever, Cloth, 2 00 

Arthur O'Leary. By Charles Lever, Cloth, 2 00 

Con Cregan. By Charles Lever, Cloth, 2 00 

Horace Templeton. By Charles Lever, Cloth, 2 00 

Kate O'Donoghue. By Charles Lever, Cloth, 2 00 

Valentine Vox, the Ventriloquist. By Harry Cookton, Cloth, 2 00 


Each one ie/uH of lUustrationt, by Felix 0. C. Darleg, and bound in ClotJL 

Major Jones' Courtship and Travels. In one vol., 29 Illustrations,^! 75 

Major Jones' Scenes in Georgia. With 16 Illustrations, 1 60 

Swamp Doctor's Adventures in the Soutb-West. 14 Hlustrations,... 1 50 

Col. Thorpe's Scenes in Arkansaw. With 16 Illustrations, 1 50 

High Life in New York, by Jonathan Slick. With Illustrattons,.... 1 50 

Piney Wood's Tavern; or, Sam Slick in Texas. Illustrated, 1 50 

Humors of Falconbridge. By J. F. Kelley. With Illustrations, ... 1 60 

Simon Suggs' Adventures and Travels. With 17 Illustrations, 1 75 

The Big Bear's Adventures and Travels. With 18 Illustrations, 1 75 

Judge Haliburton's Yankee Stories. Illustrated, 1 75 

Harry Coverdale's Courtship and Marriage. Illustrated, 1 75 

Lorrimer Littlegood. Illustrated. By author of ** Frank Fairlegh," 1 75 

Sam Slick, the Clockmaker. By Judge Haliburton. Illustrated,... 1 75 

Modern Chivalry. By Judge fireckenridgo. Two vols., each 1 75 

Neal's Charcoal Sketches. By Joseph C. Neal. 21 Illustrations,... 2 50 

M^jor Jones's Courtship. 21 Illustrations. Paper, 75 cents, cloth, 1 00 

Mi^or Jones's Georgia Scenes. 12 Illustrations. Paper, 75 cents, cloth, 1 00 

Migor Jones's Travels. 8 Illustrations. Paper, 75 cents, cloth, 1 09 

Raney Cottem's Courtship. 8 Illustrations. Paper, 50 nents, sloth, 1 00 

. ♦•♦ » 

i^ Above Books will be sent, postage paid, on receipt of Retail Priee^ 
by T. B. Peterios 4 Brothers, Pbiladelphuh Pa. 


m HAMtt JOMVt OZHBE B00I8. «II8T FUBUaillD n 


And £Dr sale by all Booksellers and at all Hews Stands. 


Major Jroaes*s Conrtiibip. Author's New, Enlarged, and BewrtUm 
Edition, Detailed in a Series of Letters^ with Hnmorous Scenes, Incidenti, and 
Adventures daring his Oourtship. By Muor Joseph Jones, of Pineville, Oeoigla, 
ftnthor of '• Rancy Cottem^s Courtship,** ** Mi^or Jones's Travels,** " Mi^or Jones's 
Georgia Scenes," etc. With Twenty-One Fuli Page Illustratioiis, on Tinted Plats 
Paper, by Darley and Gary. One volume, square 12iiio., uniform with ** Major 
Joneses Travels,** price 75 cents in paper cover, or in cloth, price $1.00. 


Mi^or Jones's Travels. Oomprislne Humorous Scenes, Incidents, and 
Adventures while on his tour ficom Qeorgia to Omada, with his experiences in each 
town he passed through. By Hajor Joseph Jones, of Pineville, Georgia, author 
of ** Major Jones's Courtship,** ** liancy Cottem*s Courtship,** ** Major Jonas*a 
Georgia Scenes,** etc With Eight Full Page Illustrations on Tinted Plata 
Paper, by Dariey. One volume, square 12mo., uniform with ** Major Jonsa'a 
Courtahlp," price 76 cents in paper cover, or in cloth, price $1.00. 

Mi^or Jones's Conrtshlp and Mi^or Jones's Trawela* 

These two books are also issued in one volume, in morocco doth, price $1.75w 

Mi^or Jones's Georarla Seenes. Comprising his celebrated Sketdisa 
of Scenes in Georgia, with ttieU* Incidents and Characters. By Major Josqdk 
Junes, of Pineville, GeorgiH, author of **Midor Jones's Courtship,*' "Raocy 
Cottem's Courtship,*' **Midor Jones's Travels,^' etc With Twelve Full Pag* 
Illustrations, on Tinted Plate Paper, bv Darley. One volume, square I'lmoi.^ 
uniform with ** Major Jones's Courtship," paper, 75 cents, or in cloth, price $IJOO> 

Rancy Cottem's Conrtsbin. Author's EdUion. Detailed with Other 
Humorous Sketches and Adventures. JBy Major Joseph Jones, of Pineville, Geor- 
gia, author of ** Major Jones's Courtship," ** Mi^dr Jones*s Travels,** ** Major Jones*fe 
Georgia Scenes,*' etc With Eight Full Page Illustrations, on Tinted Plate Paper: 
by Cury. One volume, square 12mo., uniform with *' Major Jones*B Oourtriup^** 
price 50 cents is piqiier cover, or in cloth, price $ljOO. 


Simon SnjKVS' Adwentnres. Late of '* The Tallapoosa YoIunteerO 
together with ** Turing the Census,** and other Alabama Sketches, by Johnson J. 
Hooper, author of ** Widow Rugt^'s Husband.** With a Portrait of Captain Simos 
Suggs, taken fhxm life, and Ten Full Page Illustrations, on Tinted Plate Paper, by 
Darley. One volume, square 12mo., uniform with "Major Jones's Courtship,*^ 
pHce 75 cents in pi^r cover, or in cloth, price $1.00. 


The Iionisiana Swamp Doctor. Together ^nith ** Cupping as 
Irishman," ** How to Cure Fits,*' ''^Stealing a Baby,'* ^A Rattlesnake on a Steam 
boat," "The Curious Widow," "Love in a Garden," and other Southern Sketches. 
Hy Madison Tensas, M. D., of Louisiana, author of ** Cupping on the Sternum,** 
etc. With Six Full Page Illustrations, on Tinted Plata Paper, by Dariey. One 
Volume, square 12mo., uniform with **Mfl^or Jones's Courtship," price 75 «enti 
in paper cover, or In cloth, price $1.00. 

^^ Above Bookt are for acUe by all Bookaellers and at ail Neu* 
StandB, or copies of any one oraUof them, will be sent to any one, '> 
any place, at once, post'paidf on remitting the price to the ptiblithe^ ^ 

T. B. PETERSON A BEOTHEES, Phlladelpliia, 


Price Otie Dollar Ea^ch^ in Cloth, Black and Gold* 

IiADY EDITH ; or, ALTON TOWBB8. A rery Channing and Fudnating ^ork. 
K7BTLE LAWN ; or, Tme Love Never Ban Smooth. A Real Love Story. 
A WOMAN'S THOUGHTS ABOUT WOMEN. By Miat Mnlock. All ihoald ned » 
TWO WAYS TO MATKIMONY; or. Is It Love, or. False Pride P 
THE STOB Y OF ** ELIZABETH." By Hias Thackeray, daughter of W. M. Thackeny 
THE MATOHMAKBB. A Society Norel. By Beatrice Reynolda. FulloffreshnesBandtrotk 
BOSE DOUGLAS, The Bonnie Scotch Lass. A Oompnnion to** Family Pride." 
THE E ABL'S SEOBET. A Charming and Sentimental Love Story. By Miss Pardee. 
FAMILY SECBETS. A Companion to **FamUy Pride," and a very fosdnating work. 
THE M ACDEBMOTS OF B ALLYGLOBAN. An Exciting Notel by Anthony Trollope 
THE FAMILY SAVE- ALL. With Economical Receipts for Breakfost, Dinner and Tea 
SELF-S ACBIFICE. A Channing and Exciting Work. By author of ** Blargaret Bfaitland 
THE FBIDE OF LIFE. A Love Story. By Lady Jane Scott 

THE BIVAL BELLES ; or. Life in Washington. By author ** Wild Weatem Soenea.' 
THE OLYFF ABDS OF OL YFFE. By James Payn, author of ** Lost Sir Massingbetd." 
THE OBFHAN'S TBIALS; or. Alone in a Great City. By Emerson Bennett 
THE HEIBESS OF SWEET WATEB. A Love Story, abounding with exciting soensa 
LOST SIB MASSINGBEBD. A L«>ve Story. By author of ** The ClyfTards of Clyfle." 
COBA BELMONT; or, THE SINOEBE LOVEB. A True Stuiy of the Heart 
THE LOVEB'S TBIALS ; or. The Days Before the Bevolution. By Mrs. DenisM 
MY SON'S WIFE. A strong, bright, interesting and channing Novel. By author of ** Caste." 
AUNT PATTY'S SOBAF BAG. By Mrs. Caroline Lee Henta, author of " Linda." " Rena.' 
SABATOGA! AND THE FAMOUS SFBING8. An Indian Tale of Frontier Life. 
COUNTBY QUABTEBS. A Charming Loye Story. By the Countess of Blecsington. 
SELF-LOVE. A Book for Toung Ladies, with their prospects in Single and Married Life contrasted 
THE LIFE OF EDWIN FOBBEST. By Colley abber. With Reminisoenoet. 
THE MAN OF THE WOBLD. This is full of style, elegance of diction, and force of thoogbt 
OUT OF THE DEPTHS. A Woman's Story and a Woman's Book, the Story of a Woman's Life 
THE QUEEN'S F AVOBITE ; or. The Price of a Grown. A Romance of Don Jaaa 
WOMAN'S WBONG. A Book for Women. By Mrs. Eiloart. A Novel of great power. 

NANA. ByEmileZola. DBEAM NUMBEBS. By T. A. Trollope. 


LOVE AND DUTY. By Mrs. Hubbwjk. THE CAVALIEB. By G. P. R. Jamas. 



^ The above. Books are all issued in **PtlerMans* Dollar Series,** And are for sale hy all BooHesd^ 
I News Stands, and on all Railroad trains, at One Dollar each, or copies of any one or in/>re, 
i to any ont, to any plaoe, at once, post-paid, on remitting the price of the ones wanted in a htter, tm 

Humorous American Works. 

. Fall of nitutrailons by Darley, and In Illturtrated CoTen. 

TlM Books on this pagre aro the Faniiiesi In ibe world, and arc 
for sale hj all Booksellers and by the Publishers, 


KAJOB JONES'S COUBTSHIP. With 21 full page Ulustrctions by DarUr. 
MAJOBJOHBS'STBAVELS. Fall of Illustrations by Darley. 
MAJOB JONES'S OBOBOIA SCENES. Illustrated by Darley. 
SIMO N 8U00S' ADVENTUBES. By Johnson J. Hooper. Illnstrated. 
.THE LOUISIANA SWAMP DOOTOB. Full of Illustrations by Darley. 
The above are el9oi99wedf bound in tiUhfpHeeOnsJkMarEaeh. 

THE BIG BEAB OF ABKAN8AS. By T. B. Thorpe. Illustrated by Darley. 
QUABTEB BACE IN KENTUCKT. With Illustrations by Darley. 
WIDOW BDGBT'S HUSBAND. By Johnson J. Hooper. F:Hl of IllustratioPt 
CHABCOAL SKETCHES. By Joseph C. Neal. Illustrated. 
THE DBAMA IN POKEBVILLB. By J. M. Field. Illustrated. 
PETEBFABEB'SMISFOBTUNES. By Joseph C. Neal. Illustrated. 
NEW OBLEANS SKETCH BOOK. With Illustrations by Darley. 
THE DEERSTALKEB8. By Frank Forester. Illustrated. 
THE QUOBNDON HOUNDS. By Frank Forester. Illustrated. 
MT SHOOTING BOX. By Frank Forester. Illustrated. 
THE WABWICK WOODLANDS. By Frank Forester. Illustrated. 
ADTBNTUBES OF MAJOB O'BEOAN. By H. H. Bracken ridj^e. 
AUNT PATTY'S SCBAP BAG. By Mrs. Caroline Lee Hentz. 


BANCY COTTEM*S COUBTSHIP. By author of " M^or Jones's Coartahip.' 

Illustrate d. P rice 60 centA in paper cover, or $1.00 in cloth. 
FOLLOWING THE DBUM. By Mrs. Gen. Viele. Price 50 cents. 
THE AMEBIGAN JOE MILLEB. With Engrayings. Pricef 

• ^^^ tized by ^ 


^a^ Copies of any one, or more, or all of the above works, will be sen 

M«>«f Mut nnatmnftiil. nn. r^nokiUirtn thjt nrice of the QTMS wanted to the Puhlisth 

The Book the Play was Dramatised From. 

A paiiisia¥ eoiiance 


The Book the Popular Play of "A Parisian Ronnance" 

WAS taken from, which Play is pronounced to be 

the Greatest Production ever witnessed 

on the American Stage. 


affairs/' "BBLLAH," "the little countess," ETC. 

**A Parisian Romance^'* Octave FeuilUfs new book^ forms the basis of the great play 
of the same name, which for a long while has been the leading dramatic attraction in 
Neio York, and is soon to be performed throughout the country. In Paris its success 
both as a novel and on the stage was simply colossal. All who have seen or expect to 
see the famous drama should read the absorbing narrative as it first came from Feuil- 
let's pen, and thus get the powerful plot aftd all the thrilling scenes in their entirety. 
**A Parisian Romance" treats of an uncongenial marriage and its terrible results. 
The wife detests her husband, and by a series of incidents is changed from an inno- 
cent, confiding creature into a cold-hearted, revengeful demon, bent upon obtaining 
vengeance on the man who has ruthlessly shattered her happiness. She plunges into 
the vortex of fashion and becomes entirely reckless. Her husband fights two duels with 
her admirers, in one of which he kills his man, who has been guilty only of pla tonic 
affection for the wife. The other admirer severely wounds the husband. This strottg 
plot, but a slight glimpse of which has been given above, is managed with the utmost 
skill and cleverness, and is developed with consummate ability, so that the whole book 
does not contain a single line devoid of telling interest. All the episodes are intensely 
dramatic, the scenes in the fencing-hall at the husband* s country-seat being particu- 
larly graphic and thrilling, while the incident of the intercepted letter and answer 
has never been surpassed in potver in any novel or play. **A Parisian Romance ** is, 
in short, a thorough analysis of a woman* s heart, thoughts and schemes. The peculiar 
customs of high French society were never so completely exposed as in its pages, yet 
everything is refined, not a single repulsive word or phrase being employed. Feutllet 
is one of the crispest and most brilliant novelists of the day, and **A Parisian 
Romance,** will stand a comparison with the best works of any writer, no matter 
hoiu celebrated. The great novel has been rendered into English with exquisite tact, 
every characteristic of the original having been preserved, and all lovers of fiction 
will find it phenomenally absorbing from the first page to the last. 

Paper Cover, 50 Cents. Morocco Cloth, Gilt and Black, $1.00. 

'^ ^*A Parisian Romance ** will be found for sale by all Booksellers and News 
\ts, at all News Stands everywhere, and on all Railroad Trains, or copies of 
U be sent to any one, per mail, post-paid, on remitting the price to the publishers. 

Mrs. Ann S. Stephen s' Works. 

38 Volumes, at $1.75 each; or $40.00 a Set. 

r. B. PETERSON A BROTHERS, No. 306 CheUntU StreH, Philadelphia, Pa,, 
have Just published <m entire new, complete, and uniform edition of all the works writ- 
ten by Mrs, Ann S, Stephens, the popular American Authoress, This edition is in 
duodecimo form, is printed on the finest paper, is complete in twenty^three velumes, and 
each volume is bound in morocco cloth, with a full ffilt back, and is sold at the low price 
of $1.75 each, or $40.00 /or a full and complete set. Every Family and every Libra rt^ 
in this country, should have in it a complete set of this new and beautiful edition of 
the works of Mrs. Ann S, Stephens, The following are the names of the volumes : 



BELLEHOOD AND BONDAGE; or, Bought with a Price. 

LORD HOPE'S CHOICE; or, More Secrets Than Out. 
THE OLD COUNTESS. Sequel to " Lord Hope's Choice." 
RUBY GRAY'S STRATEGY ; or, Married by Mistake. 

PALACES AND PRISONS; or. The Prisoner of the Bastile. 
A NOBLE WOMAN ; or, A Gulf Between Them. 
THE CURSE OF GOLD; or, The Bound Girl and The Wife's Trials. 
MABEL'S MISTAKE; or, The Lost Jewels. 

THE OLD HOMESTEAD ; or, The Pet n*om the Poor Hous^. 
THE REJECTED WIFE ; or. The Ruling Passion. 
THE WIFE'S SECRET; or, Gillian. 

THE HEIRESS ; or. The Gipsy's Legacy. 

SILENT STRUGGLES; or, Barbara Stafford. 

WIVES AND WIDOWS; or, The Broken Ufa. 
DOUBLY FALSE ; or, Alike and Not Alike. 



p^ Above books are for sale by all Booksellers at $1.75 each, or $40.00 for a ear 
plete set of the twenty-three volumes. Copies of either one or more of the above br 
•r a complete set of them, will be sent at once to any one, to any place, p 
prepaid, or free of freight, on remitting their price in a letter to the Publishe 



la Volumes, at S1.75 Bach; or S21.00 a Set. 

r. B. PETERSON' & BliOTHEnS, Ko, 306 Chestnut Street, Philc^ 
ilelpliia, hcwe just jmblishcd an entire neic, complete, and uniform edituni of 
all tlie celebrated Novels written bij the popular American Novelist, Mrs. Car- 
oline Lee Hentz, in twelve large duodecimo volumes^ Tliey are printed on the 
finest paper, and bound in the nwst beautiful style^ in Green Morocco cloth, 
with a new, full gilt back, ami sold at the low price of $1.75 each, or $21.00 
for a full and complete set. Evert* Family and every Library in this country, 
dhould have in it a complete set of this new and beautiful edition of tlie works 
cf Mrs, Caroline Lee Hentz. The following is a complete list of 



With a Complete Biography of Mrs. Caroline Lee Hentz. 
ROBERT GRAHAM. A Sequel to "Linda." 
RENA ; or, THE SNOW BIRD. A Tale of Real Life. 
MARCUS WARLAND ; or, The Long Moss Spring. 
ERNEST LINWOOD; or, The Inner Life of the Author. 
EOLINE; or, MAGNOLIA VALE; or, The Heiress of Glenmore. 
THE PLANTER'S NORTHERN BRIDE; or, Mrs. Hentz's Childhood. 
JeLEN AND ARTHUR; or, Miss Thusa's Spinning-Wheel. 
COURTSHIP AND MARRIAOE; or, The Joys of American Ufe. 
LOVE AFTER MARRIAGE; and other Stories of the Heart. 
THE LOST DAUGHTER ; and other Stories of the Heart. 
THE BANISHED SON; and other Stories of the Heart. 

i^-Aboee Books are for sale by all Booksellers at $1.75 each, or $21.00/oi 

vnplete set of the ttoelce volumes. Copies of either one of the abooe books, or 

nplete set of them, will be sent at once to any one, to any place, poslaga 

lid, crfree of freight, on remitliny £Aetr j^rice in a letter to the Publisher*- 

T. B. PfSTEBSON & BBOTUEIRS. PliUadelnhta. PM- 



Each Work ia complete and unabridged, in ono large volnme. 
All or any will be sent trtt of postage, eyerywhere, to all. oh receipt of remittaseee. 

aiTat^rles of th«) Oonrt of Iiondont being THB MTSTERIES OF THE COURT Of 

EOR<iB TUB THIRD, toith the Life and Timet of tite PKINUE OF WAL£8, aflenoard OBOBOC 

IIB FQ0RT11. Complete in one large volume, liound in clotli, price $1.75 ; or in paper cover, price 9l.0(\ 

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Burled Alive. In one large octavo volume. Price 26 cents. 

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iSHMAEL; or, IN THE DEPTHS. (Being ''Self-Made; or, Out of Depths. ' 
SELF-RAISED ; or, From the Depths. The Sequel to *' Ishmaef." 
THE PHANTOM WEDDING ; or, the Fall of the House of Flint. 
VICTOR'S TRIUMPH. The Sequel to " A Beautiful Fiend." 
HOW HE WON HER. The Sequel to "Fair Play." 
THE CHANGED BRIDES ; or. Winning Her Way. 
THE BRIDE'S FATE. The Sequel to 'The Changed Brides/* 
CRUEL AS THE GRAVE; or, Hallow Eve Mystery. 
TRIED FOR HER LIFE. The Sequel to " Cruel as the Grave." 
THE CHRISTMAS GUEST; or. The Crime and the Curse. 
A NOBLE LORD. The Sequel to "The Lost Heir of Linlithgow." 
THE MAIDEN WIDOW. The Sequel to " The Family Doom." 
THE GIPSY'S PROPHECY; or, The Bride of an Evening. 
THE FORTUNE SEEKER; or, Astrea, The Bridal Day. 
THE DISCARDED DAUGHTER; or. The Children of the Isle. 
THE TWO SISTERS; or, Virginia and Magdalene. 








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's. B* PBTERSON & BROTHERS, Philadelphia, F^. 

Zola^s New Book. The Bonheur dee JDamea. 




BIT El^sdlllljE ZOLA., 






**7>l/ Bonhiur des Da pus ; or^ The Shop Girls of Parish* &mite ZohCs tteiv 
novels is his greatest^ most finished and most absorbing romance. It opens up an 
entirely neto field in fiction^ and will be seized upon with avidity by countless hosts of 
readers. In nothing Zola has written is his vivid naturalism so pronounced. The 
scene is laid in the "Bonheur des Dames*^ dry-goods store, an immense Parisian 
establishment, employing a whole army of girls and men, Zola pictures this store 
from its modest beginning, shaiving how it grew day by day, ruining rival houses, and 
gradually monopolized (til the business of a vast quarter of Paris. The daily life of 
the shop-girls, their trials, troubles, temptations and triumphs are depicted in the most 
graphic and realistic fashion. Never, indeed, has the career of shop girls been sub- 
jected to so thorough and searching an analysis. The salesmen in the colossal store 
also comf in for their share of attention, and Zola shoivs hozu they pass their 
time during business and other hours. The heroine is one of the shop girls. 
She goes through the same experience as the others, but differs from the majority of 
Zola's heroines in preferring purity to dissipation and its gilded allurements. She is, 
in short, a good girl, pure, guileless and innocent. Snares are set for her, but her 
very purity enables her to escape them all and come out unscathed from many a trying 
ordeal. She ultimately reaches a suitable social position, attaining fortune and hap- 
piness. The "Bonheur des Dames " is croivded with strong and impressive incidents. 
The plot is as compact as it is poiuerful. The book abounds in fascinating descriptions 
of Paris under tvery aspect, 7 he character-sketching is in all respects masterly. 
The "Bonheur des Dames " is so different from ZoM s preceding novels that it may 
be said to mark a new departure in style as well as theme. It is a book to be read and 
thought over. All Paris is now talking about it, and in this country it will certainly 
(urnish ample food for exciting discussion for a long while to come. 

Paper Cover, 75 Cents. Morocco Cloth, Gilt and Black, $1.25. 

9^ "The Bonheur des Dames ; or. The Shop Girls of Paris, '^ will be found fm 

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Alplionse Dandet's New Book.! 





"Vivangiliste*" Alphonse DaudeCs new turvel^ is far out of the beaten track of 
fiction^ ami its originality is supplemented by intense po7ver and interest ; in fact^ it 
would be difficult to find a romance in which the interest is more absorbing. The 
book is founded on fact. It treats mainly of the acts and methods of that world famous 
organization^ the Salvation Army, The heroine, Eline Ebsen, is a Dane, living with 
her mother in the Scandinavian colony in Paris. She is on the point of being mar* 
ried, and a happy life seems in store for her, but suddenly a disturbing influence 
appears in the shape of Madame Autheman, a wealthy banker's wife, who is given to 
making religious converts. This woman hires -Eline to translate some prayer-bocks, 
and during the execution of the work the girl becomes filled with her patron's enthu- 
siasm. She breaks 7vith her suitor and deserts her mother to serve as a preacher in 
the Salvation Army, This is the introduction to one of the most thrilling novels of 
the day, and from thence onward the plot absolutely enthralls the reader, each succeed- 
ing link riveting the chain the tighter. The incidents are strong in the highest degree, 
very dramatic, and pervaded by a lurid light of mysticism, which augments the effect 
a thousandfold. The gradual development in the young heroine of the fatal passion 
for proselytizing people is depicted as Alphonse Daudet alone of all the French novelists 
can depict an idea, and the struggles of the poor mother to recover her deluded daugh- 
ter from the grasp of the rich Authemans, her vain appeals to the feeling of pity and 
the unsympathetic law, touch the heart of the reader to an extent the pen cannot depict. 
But ** VEvangfliste*^ is not by any means an altogether sombre novel, nor is it 
devoted exclusively to the exposure and denunciation of religious fanaticism. It is 
relieved by the introduction of a number of exceedingly cheerful characters, among 
whom figure the Aussandon couple, a clergyman and his wife, very charming people, 
7ohose religion is of the genuine kind, and who impart to the splendid romance a thor^ 
oughly hum'an and home-like tone. Besides, the book is pervaded by a good-natured 
humor, always acceptable and, at times, perfectly irresistible. Alphonse Daudet is 
one of the very best French romance 7oriters, and those who have admired his prece- 
ding novels loill certainly vote *^ V ii>angiliste " his masterpiece. The work has cre- 
ated a profound sensation in Paris, for everybody will read it and talk about it. 
The translation has been faithfully and carefully made by Mary Neat Sherwood, 

Paper Cover, 75 Cents. Morocco Cloth, Gilt and Black, $1.25. 

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L']^VANGELISTE. A Parisian Novel. By Alphmse Daudet, 
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A PARISIAN ROMANCE. The Book the Play was taken 

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THE DUCHESSE UNDINE. A New American Novel. 

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THE HIDDEN RECORD; or, The Old Sea Mystery, By 

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SYLVIE'S BETROTHED. A New Society Novel. By 
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A PASCINATING WOMAN. By Madame Edmond Adq,m, 

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MONSIEUR LE MINISTRE. By Jules Claretie. The book 

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WINNING THE BATTLE; or, One Girl in Ten Thousand. 

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.ASV^Soecimens sout trnitls. if written fi)r. to mt un rlsiha with 

I^mile Zola's Greatest Work. 

— —a 

The "Bonheur des Dames." 

BIT iins^ILE ZGXjA.. 





£miU Zola*s works are the greatest as well as the most wonderful and successful novels 
ever written. They have created a great sensation everywhere, and have been hailed by the press of 
London, Patis, St. Petersburg, and all other cities, as the literary event of this century. 


Translated by John Stirling, and Unabridged. 

The ** Bonheur des Dames; or. The Shop Girls of Paris/' By EmiU 

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Nana! The Sequel to " L'Assommoir." Nana! £v Ettn'/e Zola. H^ith a Picture 1/ 
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I^'Assoinmolr; or, Nana^s Mother. By EmiU Zola, author of "iVaMa." With a 
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l»a Belle Lisa; or. The Paris Market Girls. Bv Emile Z<>/.i, author of "Mana" 
end ** L' Assompnoir." Price 75 cents in paper cover, or $1.25 in Cloth, Black and Gold. 

Pot*Bonllle. By Emile Zola, author of *^Nama" *^ L'Assommoir" etc. Pot-Bouille. 
With an Illustrated Cover. Price 75 cents in paper cover, or $1.25 in Cloth, Black and Gold. 

In the Whirlpool. By Emile Zola, author of *'Nana*' *' L'Assommoir," etc. With an 
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The Girl In Scarlet; or. The Ijoves of Sllvere and Bllettc. By Emile Zoia, 
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A Blad I<ove; or. The Abbe and His Court. By Etnile Zola, author of "Nana" 
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Clande's Confession. By Emile Zola, author of **Nana," *'L' Assommoir" '^Pot- 
Bouille," *' The Girl in Scarlet," etc. Price 75 cents in paper cover, or $1.25 in cloth. Black and Gold. 

The Mysteries of the Conrt of IjOuIs Napoleon. By Emile Zola, author of 
**Nana " and *' L' Assoffttnoir." Price 75 cents in paper cover, or $1.25 in Cloth, Black and Gold. 

ll^lftne. A Tale of Love and Passion. By Emile Zola, author of "Nana," and *'L'Ass0m' 
moir." With a Picture o/^^Hiline" on the cover. Price 75 cents in paper cover, or $t .25 in Cloth. 

The Mysteries of Marseilles. By Emile Zola, author of *'Natui," *' L'Assommoir" 
'* The Girl tn Scarlet," etc. Price 75 cents in paper cover, or $1.25 in Cloth, Black and Gold. 

Albine ; or. The Abbe's Temptation. By Emile Zola, author of '"Nana," and ** L'As- 
sommoir," With a Picture 0/ '*Al6ine on the cover. Price 75 cents in paper, or $1.25 in Cloth. 

Masrilalen Ferat. By Emile Zola, author of ^'Nana." With a Picture 0/ ** Magdalen 
ferat on the cover. Price 75 cents in paper cover, or %\ .25 in Cloth, BlAck and Gold. 

Th^r^se Raqnln. By Emile Zola, author of "Nana." With a Portrait 0/ "Emile Zola, " 
on the cover. Price 75 cents in paper cover, or One Dollar in Cloth, Black and Gold. 

Nana'S BaUfChter. A Continuation of and Seauel tn Emile Zola's Great Realistic Novel of 

"^(Mo." Price 75 cents in paper cover, or $t.oo in cloth, black and gold. ^^ 

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T. B. P£T£BSON & BKOTHEBS, Philadelphia, Pa.^ 

Digitized by 


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Jun 2 5 m' 


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